Above, a screenshot of a public Facebook post by Galway Cat Rescue - click on the picture to view it in full size (=easier to read), or click here to read it on Facebook. (Also, my comment on FB)
I have been following that issue, mainly on Facebook, and I find it appalling.
As many people know, removing feral cats from a location, is not going to create a cat-free area. New feral cats will move in.
The way to control a feral cat population, is to TNR all of them. (If you're not familiar with TNR, read about it on Wikipedia; Trap-Neuter-Return);
Trap-neuter-return (TNR), also known as trap-test-vaccinate-alter-release (TTVAR), is a method of humanely trapping unaltered feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and releasing them back to the same location where they were collected.
There are many cat rescue groups and individuals, all over Ireland, who are constantly working on humanely trapping feral cats for TNR, dealing with lost and dumped pets, and trying to educate people on responsible pet ownership, such as having your cats spayed / neutered to avoid creating more cats, when there are already so many without homes.
One of such groups is Galway Cat Rescue. As you can see, in their post, they get €2000 for a full year, from the Dept. of Agriculture (many groups / individuals don't even get that..). I can guarantee that €2000 is pretty much nothing, considering their expenses! So, in addition to all the hard work they do, they have to be constantly fundraising - and that's very hard work as well!
So, this hospital in Galway decided that they had a "cat problem" - apparently, feral cats were living on hospital grounds..
I am certain that it wouldn't have caused any trouble to anyone, to just let those cats live as they were. A sensible thing would have been to pay a tiny amount of money (from HSE = from Irish taxpayers) to Galway Cat Rescue, to collect the cats for TNR, and drop them back later, creating a well established cat population that would not have grown larger.
But no.. Apparently, University Hospital Galway (UHG) has way too much money to spend. They chose to hire Rentokil (pest control) to kill the feral cats. 15-20 feral cats were "eliminated" - apparently, the fee was ~ €4500. That's €225 - €300 per cat. And, apparently, they can't even prove if it was done in a humane way or not. Personally, I think there's nothing humane about Rentokil..
One of the hospital's excuses, apparently, was that fleas had been found in the hospital. So, the cats had to go. Like, WTF?!? Those cats were not even IN the hospital, they lived outside. Also, they may not have had any fleas, and even if they did, there is NO WAY that their fleas would have ended up inside the hospital, even if the cats had been there! Also, it's interesting how the fleas were only found later, as mentioned in the following article;
Two cats killed for every flea found at city hospital
March 15, 2013 - 7:15am
HSE ordered cull before flea issue raised its head
BY DARA BRADLEY
A dozen cats were captured on the grounds of University Hospital Galway (UHG) and killed late last year, supposedly in an attempt to rid the hospital of a flea problem – yet evidence of just six fleas were found, documents reveal.
[more behind the link]
(Years ago, Thatsit and Oimo had fleas. They may have had them for a day or two, before we noticed. They had been sleeping all over the house, but not one flea was found anywhere else than on the cats. Advantage flea treatment was applied, and that was it sorted.)
They (UHG) could have chosen to spend money wisely, by paying a small fee towards having the feral cats TNR'ed, which would have worked for everyone.
They chose to throw loads of money away - after all, the whole bill was even larger - quoting from that same article;
The cost of hiring pest control company, Rentokil, for UHG and Merlin Park increased by 38% last year, to €27,553.
...and what a cruel, unnecessary death it was, for those poor cats. They may not all have even been feral, in fact. At least one local resident has posted on Facebook comments, that her cat is still missing...
As for the flea problem. I have been to that hospital as a patient, in late 90's. I don't know if it has changed a lot since then, but I remember that it wasn't the cleanest of places, at the time..