To the editor:
On Thursday, Jan 25, two Sandy Pines members reported finding a deceased cat in a live trap located on Sandy Pines park property. Photos and video of the cat were immediately posted on social media. Word of this situation spread to the public, national animal rights groups and led to local TV and print news coverage.
Our Director of Public Safety immediately turned the situation over to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, Animal Control and Administration to complete an investigation. The Sandy Pines Public Safety Department worked tirelessly with Allegan County to provide policies, patrol logs, gate logs and video surveillance footage to aid in the investigation.
During the investigation we were advised by legal counsel not to publicly comment, answer questions or speculate, as such information could adversely affect the investigation. It was difficult to hold back information due to the highly sensitive nature of the issue, as many had legitimate questions. We deeply regret that an animal lost its life, was discovered in this nature and resulted in the disturbing visual social media representation of this event. Our hearts go out to all who were affected by news of this story.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, Animal Control and Administration have completed their investigation. The Allegan County Prosecutor reported the investigation found no basis for any charges to be brought against Sandy Pines or any specific employee due to negligence, protocol or policies.
We appreciate their efforts in conducting a thorough investigation. Further public questions can be answered by contacting our Public Safety Office at 616-896-9006 or by email at Security@SandyPines.com.
Although we’d love to share all the information we know about the situation, please understand that confidentially prevents us from sharing patrol logs, gate logs, video surveillance footage and anything that contains personal and/or private information.
Although we cannot change the past, we can shape the future. We are using this situation to evaluate our current systems and protocol. All live traps have been removed until our review is complete and potential revisions are made to current policies.
As per many public suggestions, we are currently reaching out to local organizations that utilize Trap, Neuter & Return (TNR) management practices. On Thursday, Feb. 8, we met with Carol Manos, the founder and director of Carol’s Ferals, a Grand Rapids-based organization that is dedicated to ending feline overpopulation in west Michigan through community education and empowerment. Carol presented a proposal to manage all of the park’s animal control efforts utilizing TNR practices on our feral cat population.
We see the proposal as a balanced solution to protect the safety and wellbeing of our members while also managing the animal population in a humane manner. We are currently assessing the proposal and will post updates to our animal control policies as they are available on our website at www.SandyPines.com/AnimalControlPolicies.
We apologize to all who were emotionally affected by this event and thank those who have offered positive feedback and suggestions on TNR procedures and policies. We have heard your concerns and are carefully considering your suggestions, while assuring that these matters are taken to heart for the betterment of our community.
Josh Janowiak, marketing and member services director,
Sandy Pines, Dorr