At Gitmo, dogs get millions, cats get a bullet

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At Donald Trump’s request, U.S. military officials on Tuesday announced they were postponing 127 construction projects to free up $3.6 billion that will be used to repair or fortify 175 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The affected projects include a $9,080,000 plan to tear down the veterinarian clinic at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay and replace it with a state-of-the-art “Working Dog Treatment Facility.”
Construction had been expected to begin as early as this year. Officials haven’t said when the project will get back on track.
The delay is a temporary setback for military dogs, some of whom suffer post-traumatic stress and other injuries, but the situation for cats at Gitmo is much more dire.
At least 625 feral cats were shot or killed by lethal injection on the base from 2010 through 2017, according to Erika Kelly, founder of Operation Git-Meow, a Virginia non-profit that has been trying to help manage Guantánamo’s cat population. Kelly told the Cuba Money Project she has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to try to determine the number killed in 2018 and 2019.

Erika Kelly, founder of Operation Git-Meow.

The total is “definitely a higher number than 625,” she said.
Kelly said Gitmo has declined her offer to spay and neuter the feral cats for free, opting to kill them instead. She said:

It’s just an ineffective and inhumane policy that’s incredibly demoralizing for those tasked with carrying it out as well as the soldiers on base who see the kittens dying continuously.

According to Operation Git-Meow, a U.S. Department of Agriculture contractor travels to Gitmo to kill the cats at a cost of more than $220,000 from 2010 to 2017.
I told Kelly the cats might have a better shot at survival if they could earn their keep – like the military dogs. “It’s actually funny you say that because on a lot of bases the cats help control the rodent population,” she said. “This definitely happens in the Middle East.”
And at Gitmo, “many of the warehouses are full of rodents,” she said, and the felines help keep them in check. “But the cats are still deemed pests.”
A vet at the base spays and neuters strays, but if they aren’t adopted within 72 hours, then they are euthanized. “All at gov’t expense,” Kelly said. “It’s really awful.”

A screenshot taken from Gitmo’s Facebook page shows a 12-week-old male kitten available for adoption until 4 p.m. on 9/11.
If no one adopts the cat by that time, I expect that the little guy will be euthanized.

“It’s also worth noting that previously the strays in the adoption program needed to have someone paying for their vet care,” Kelly said. “There was not government money being used to treat them. I’m not sure why the cats are now being fixed and microchipped with government money. There is an adoption fee if they’re adopted but if not, then the government paid for a surgery that essentially went to waste because that cat is now dead. Meanwhile, there’s a 6-month waitlist for surgeries for pets so people have pregnant cats at home but they can’t get them spayed, or even fly them off island to be spayed. Everything here just contributes to the crazy overpopulation.”

These feral cats were rescued from Gitmo and have been adopted within the past few weeks. Photos by Operation Git-Meow. For information about the group or to donate to the cause, see Operation Git-Meow’s Facebook page.

Military dogs fare better than the cats. Their new treatment facility has only been delayed, not cancelled. Here’s what $9 million will buy:

The project will include a surgical suite, laboratory, pharmacy, food inspection and examination rooms. Proper seismic protection will be included in the design. Supporting facilities include utilities, site improvements, parking, signage, antiterrorism force protection measures, demolition, and environmental protection measures.

The current vet clinic is in a “repurposed family housing building” constructed in 1954, the project proposal says. The ventilation and air conditioning system “does not provide appropriate anesthesia waste gas disposal in the surgical suite. These conditions place staff and patients at risk for harmful substance exposure. Furthermore, multiple failing building systems such as an undersized electrical system, a leaking roof, and cracked structural masonry walls add to patient and staff risk.”
The building “cannot accommodate a proper surgical suite and equipment due to the low ceiling heights, has exceeded its life expectancy, is functionally inappropriate for veterinary care, and contains insufficient building systems for a safe and functional MWD (Military Working Dog) treatment facility,” the project proposal says.

Photos by Staff Sgt. Gretel Weiskopf, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs

The new, 5,277-square-foot animal palace will “provide complete, preventative, diagnostic, dental and surgical care” for all government-owned animals and working dogs.
The proposal budget includes $85,000 for “antiterrorism/force protection,” $35,000 for “special” building foundations and $659,000 for a “standby generator.”
The budget also includes a $407,000 contingency fund and $530,000 for “supervision, inspection and overhead.”
Not included is $1,301,000 already spent for project design.
Construction had been expected to begin as early as August 2019 and finish by March 2022.
Military officials haven’t announced when work will resume.
But don’t despair, animal lovers. Trump’s push for the border wall didn’t affect a plan to count the iguanas at Gitmo.
On May 30, the Department of the Navy gave a Jacksonville, Florida company $98,607 to conduct an “iguana survey” at the naval base.
LG2 Environmental Solutions Inc. is expected to finish its count by Nov. 30, 2020.

An iguana peers at the camera at San Pedro de la Roca castle, also known as El Morro de Santiago. The military fortress, built in 1638, is in eastern Cuba.

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4 thoughts on “At Gitmo, dogs get millions, cats get a bullet”

  1. No one should be alarmed or surprised by the killing of cats on GITMO, if they knew about the horrendous past of abuses and crimes, committed on GITMO before incarcerating, torturing and murdering individuals accused of being members of the Taliban, who no one have dared to put on trial.

    On December 17, 1940 a US foreman murdered Lino Rodriguez a Cuban construction worker. On September 1954, Lorenzo Solomon was arrested, tortured during 15 days and accused of embezzling money which was never proved, which enraged the adjacent fishing community of Caimanera, which had been turned into a prostitution, gambling and drug haven for US military on shore leave.

    On January 12, 1961, shortly after the US had broken diplomatic relations with Cuba, Manuel Prieto Gonzalez, a civil service employee on the base was accused of being a sympathizer of the Cuban revolutionary government, was arrested, tortured and forced to swallow poisoned pills.

    On March 13, 1961 a pirate boat coming from GITMO, strafed with 57cal machine guns, Santiago de Cuba refinery, killing Cuban sailor Rene Rodriguez. On September 30 of the same year, Ruben Lopez Sabariego another worker of the base, was detained by the Military Intelligence Service. Eighteen days later, US officials notified Lopez Sabariego’s wife, that his body had been found in a ditch. The medical examiner determined he had been beaten to death.

    Rodolfo Rosell Salas, a fisherman from Caimanera was kidnapped, tortured and savagely murdered in May 1961. His mutilated body bearing numerous stab wounds was found adrift in the bay near Caimanera.

    US Marines shooting at Cuban sentry boxes, killed Ramon Lopez Peña in 1964 and Luis Ramirez Lopez in 1966, both members of the Cuban and wounded soldiers Luis Ramirez Reyes, Antonio Campos and Andres Noel Larduet, all members of the Cuban border patrol, all of which led to cutting-off GITMO drinking water intake in the Yateritas River on Cuba un-occupied territory.

    As a reprisal for Cuba cutting-off its water supply, the Base commanding officer gave 2500 Cuban civil service employee, eight hours to decide if they would request asylum and stay on GITMO with all their prerogatives or return to Cuba with their families and be on their own. Seven hundreds decided to return to Cuba, their retirement payments were frozen for 40 years in Boyers, PA, until the intervention of the UN Human Rights Commission, the Pope and a world clamor led to the unfreezing of their money, when most were old sick or had died. Those who choose to abandon their families and stay on GITMO, it took them Fifteen Years to return to Cuba to see the remnants of what was left of their families, just 12 miles away!

  2. This is so inhumane. Where is the outcry from liberals over the deaths of these cats? From what I understand, the naval base could allow GITMEOW to come in and save many if these cats, at little to no cost to the military. Yet they choose to kill instead of slowing these preciius cats to be adopted. Wtf is WRONG with the navy???

  3. Anyone who has studied US – CUBA relations — especially stressing the dates 1898, 1903, 1952, 1959, and 1961 — would conclude that the US decision-makers regarding Cuba were the most ignorant, demented, and revengeful individuals the US government could find. June 4, 2019 — when the US activated Title 3 of Helms-Burton — might supersede the aforementioned dates for ignorant but legalized cruelty.

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