By Nicole Valdes
On-campus residents at Barry have frequently encountered stray animals like cats and raccoons walking around campus. These encounters usually occur by Dominican Hall, O’Laughlin Hall, where the art department is located, or by Landon, near the bookstore. Raccoons tend to hide by the tennis courts, where commuters have encountered them at night, and by Thompson Hall where residents have witnessed them walking by.
Barry residents have mixed feelings about the presence of these animals on campus.
Some students don’t mind the cats on campus, as they are able to relax by petting or playing with the cats after a long day of classes. For example, senior commuter student Stephanie Fuentes, a communications and media studies major, said that the cats cheer her up when she sees them near Dunkin Donuts.
Fuentes thinks it is because people feed the cats that they keep coming around.
“If you always feed cats they will always come back, and probably bring more stray cats along,” said Fuentes. “[But] it’s fine to feed them as long as they don’t harm anyone.”
James Bradshaw, a junior English major and resident student, agrees.
Bradshaw has witnessed a cat waiting outside the doors of Dominican Hall for his daily meals, which some residents provide him. This cat is friendly and allows people to pet and play with him, according to Bradshaw, but only sticks around the doors until it gets its food.
“After a while, you’ll know when it’s their feeding time because they start hanging around, but eventually they leave,” said Bradshaw.
The Humane Society of Greater Miami, a local adoption center for stray animals, provides several tips for people who encounter stray cats. According to their website, Miami-Dade County does not have a law that prohibits cats to roam free. This means that animal services will not pick up cats.
However, according to their website, they do advocate for the ‘trap-neuter-return’ method as the most humane method of reducing stray cat populations in local communities. The Humane Society should be contacted if someone discovers a cat and wishes to take this approach.
While most students are indifferent toward the presence of the cats, students feel somewhat uneasy about the raccoons on campus. Students usually see raccoons by Penafort Pool, in the trees by the commuter parking lot, or by the tennis courts.
Bradshaw frequently sees a family of raccoons taking sips of water from the pool. However, he notes that they run away when people come around.
Senior broadcast and emerging media student Justin Mejia believes that having raccoons on campus is a problem because they could have rabies and spread it to the cats. According to The World Health Organization, rabies can be spread to humans, and if the cats have it, the students who pet the cats could be in danger.
However, Mejia also believes that the university does not need to deal with the raccoons unless they become more dangerous.
Mejia’s slight indifference likely stems from the fact that the presence of raccoons isn’t uncommon in South Florida. According to Miami Wildlife Control, raccoons are a “common nuisance animal.”
In Miami and Miami-Dade County, raccoons have become a common problem, as they have invaded homes and residencies.
“Getting rid of animals in the attics is very important for those living in Miami and the surrounding areas,” reads the website of Miami Animal Removal, an animal control organization.
The organization also notes that raccoons travel from yard-to-yard, hunting for food and creating nests.
Miami Wildlife Removal, another local animal control service, warns against approaching raccoons seen in the daytime. If a raccoon appears to be walking erratically, falling over, or paralyzed, it likely has rabies.
Even if it does not have these symptoms, any raccoon looking for food or acting normal could have rabies or be aggressive, so residents should stay away.
It seems that Barry students are not overanxious about the strays on campus. Many may even be glad that these animals have found a home at Barry.