Thu Dec 13, 2012, 02:05 PM
Liberal_in_LA (41,125 posts)
Fed court rules that US Dept of Agriculture has control over 40 "Hemingway Cats"
Hemingway's famous cats still under government control, court says
The federal government is the ultimate master of the roughly 40 cats, many with six toes, that lounge around the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Fla.
A federal appeals court has ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the power to regulate the cats, agreeing with a district court that the museum is an animal exhibitor and can be regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.
The cats, some of them kin of Ernest Hemingway's six-toed pet Snowball, have roamed free for generations. Hemingway penned several of his masterpieces at the Key West estate when he called it home in the 1930s.
But in a dispute that goes back nearly a decade, the federal government has maintained that the cats have more in common with performers in a zoo or circus than your typical house cat.
The museum said the USDA sought to make it cage the felines in individual shelters at night, build a higher fence, erect an electrical wire atop the home’s brick wall or hire a night watchman to monitor the cats so they couldn’t escape, court documents say.
A USDA representative told the Los Angeles Times in 2007 that the agency wanted only that "enclosures be set up so other animals can't enter and the cats can't get into the street," not that the felines be given individual cages.
Museum Chief Executive Mike Morawski told The Times this week that the museum installed mesh fencing to keep the cats in the compound several years ago, which satisfied the department's demands.
But now an appeals court has agreed with the USDA that the department can regulate the cats. Just what that means for the museum and cats is unclear, but Morawski worries that inspectors will demand more changes.
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