Community cats killed after being trapped under termite tents in Miami Beach – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

(WSVN) – Camping for termites is only meant to get rid of pests. Unfortunately, in one city in South Florida, it is also blamed for killing some pets. Karen Hensel from the Nightteam did the 7 investigations tonight.

As the sun comes up, the South Beach cats come out. Among them were Maru, Sol, and 10-year-old Chloe.

Holly Whalan: “Maru, are you happy to be inside?”

They were playful, even with the family dog.

Holly Whalan: “What are you doing?”

Holly Whalan, South Beach resident: “They came in and snuggled me on the sofa and Sol gave me a hug. They become our pets. “

But unfortunately, all three died on the same day in a nearby building that was used for termite tents.

Holly Whalan: “I can only imagine your fear. To be suffocated and nowhere to hide. “

Maru, Sol, and Chloe were community cats, part of the 15,000 that lived outside on Miami Beach.

SoBe Cats, a local non-profit organization, looks after the cats in partnership with the city.

Karen Hensel: “So these aren’t wildcats?”

Holly Whalan: “No, no, they are not wild. By definition, a savage is a cat that chooses not to be around people. “

Holly Whalan volunteers for SoBe Cats and takes care of feeding and vet bills for Maru, Sol and Chloe.

They spent up to a day in January both inside and outside their home.

She put up signs looking for the cats and learned that all three were trapped in the tent building.

They were killed when it was pumped full of deadly gas.

Holly Whalan: “Well, where we are now, we would have been in the tent. Here is the crawl space that killed all the cats. It was completely open. “

It’s now fixed, but pictures show the crawl space was open.

That’s how the cats got in, and that led to a code violation.

SoBe cats filed a complaint with the city. The inspectors quoted the property as saying: “In the entire building, the openings … are not equipped with suitable privacy screens.”

Holly Whalan: “I lay in bed crying for weeks. It was so heartbreaking. “

Three other community cats were caught and gassed in the same way.

Fernando Valverde took care of Oreo, Barbie and Lemon.

Fernando Valverde, South Beach resident: “We called them by their name and then all of a sudden we hear that call that is really, really bad, scary. Oreo just died in my arms. “

Government regulations require that a fumigator “perform a final, personal inspection of the structure” before the gas is released.

Holly asks if, if that had happened, why no one saw the three cats.

However, the Florida Department of Agriculture investigated and found there was insufficient evidence and did not quote the fumigant company.

Holly Whalan: “This is an ongoing issue. For example, when will it stop? “

Six cats dead in two months, but 7 investigators discovered the problem had been known from the city of Miami Beach for years.

In 2019, the city’s resident-led animal welfare committee proposed citing irresponsible fumigators with “cruel entrapment” and a fine of $ 250 per dead animal.

The then city manager even sent a memo outlining the committee’s concerns: “Fumigation cases where cats died of improper care by contractors by not removing them from the site.”

However, the proposal never made it to a vote in the city commission.

The reason? Miami Beach tells 7News that they cannot pass laws regulating fumigant companies as it is the responsibility of the state.

Fernando Valverde: “It’s really sad. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. “

Holly Whalan: “Nobody should ever have to grieve the loss of three pets in their lifetime.”

And they are now wondering what it takes to protect the animals.

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