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Stanford Cat Network co-founder's home burns, 100 cats perish

Original post made on Jul 17, 2013

The president of Stanford Cat Network narrowly escaped a house fire that gutted her home and killed nearly 100 cats in the residence.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:54 AM

Comments (42)

Posted by Felicity, a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 17, 2013 at 10:59 am

Wow... this is so ripe for all the dogs rule, cats drool jokes. One dog for three months and it saves her life. Cats..... Still, she provided care for many cats. Kudos to Adobe for taking care of the survivors. What an asset that place is for the community. Yes, I am resolutely a dog person.


Posted by Thanks Carole!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

God will forever bless you Carole. You have a kind heart and soul. I am going to research your company and try to help support your efforts. I wish you all the best, my prayers are with you and my heart goes out to you in your loss.


Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

Carole Miller and Stanford Cat Network deserve kudos and support for their kindness. So sorry to hear of her misfortune and loss, not only of the cats but her home. 100 cats are a big responsibility of both time and money.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by DJR, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

Isn't there a city ordinance regulating the number of cats and/or dogs that can be kept at a home in the San Jost City limits? Is the "Animal Control" that came to inspect a municipal service?


Posted by Ticked Off, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

[Portion removed.] This woman had 100 cats confined to cages so they were unable to escape, and she says she's "fine with it"? Ask the cats if THEY are fine with being kept in cages and at the mercy of a house fire. That is cruelty people. It happened in Oakland a year or two ago. Some rescue group who is so picky they won't let you adopt unless you pledge to confine your cat to the house, lost 30 cats in a fire because they were all ... confined to a house!
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Ticked Off, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Correction: Not "fine with it", but rather "taking the losses in stride."

Taking the losses in stride?!?!!

You take job loss in stride, you take loss of a tennis game in stride. You do not take the cruel excruciatingly painful death of even ONE animal in a fire "in stride." And 100 of them? OMG shut this woman's operation down and never ever let her get near a cat again.

Yes I am angry. The cruel, terrifying and excruciating fate of an innocent animal being suffocated and/or burned to death should make everyone angry.


Posted by fed up with privilege, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Surely the students at Stanford are ultimately responsible. These children don't wear bike helmets, abandon their cats, good grief. And these kids will be the leaders of business and industry. God forbid.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Ultimately responsible? I'm sure the buck could be passed much further back than the Stanford students.


Posted by Cat lover, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm

"Animal control services has periodically inspected her residence". Really? So where is the fire alarm sprinkler system? Does she keep fire extinguisher around? How can it be legal to keep 100+ cats in a house?

Doing charity is one thing, being responsible is another. You can not raise them all if your living condition does not allow. A no-kill turned to be a kill-all. They should investigate this woman and keep her away from any cat.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Fed-up: Are you serious? The students at Stanford?

How about the citizens of Palo Alto who take their un-neutered and unwanted cats and kittens up to campus to dump them?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm

This is a strange article. On one hand, she & her dog were saved. On the other, why wasn't a smoke detector going off to awaken her? Due to the construction, perhaps? What sort of plan did she have on hand to be able to remove her animals in case of an emergency? How does she get away w/ONE HUNDRED cats? Does she have a kennel license? Does she do the TNR that so many cat freaks think is the right solution? Why keep 100 cats alive in CAGES? Oh & she's taking it in stride. That makes her sound even more crazy.


Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Those poor animals screaming as they suffocated... No living being deserves to die the way they did. Where was Animal Control in all of this? Did Animal Control approve of keeping 100 cats in cages or carriers all the time--inside a house!? Why was there no intervention? Other rescue groups in the area could have taken these cats and re-homed them or put them up for adoption if notified by Animal Control of a confiscation. This is a senseless tragedy that could have been averted. I cry for those poor innocent creatures.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm

"I cry for those poor innocent creatures."

Cat women, who hoard cats, and have deep emotional issues, are the real problem. The victims are the cats.


Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Most cat rescuers do not hoard cats, and I am clearly thinking of the cats--innocent creatures--as the victims of this tragedy, a tragedy that could have been avoided.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm

"Most cat rescuers do not hoard cats, and I am clearly thinking of the cats--innocent creatures"

If the cats are captured, which is where the real stress is for the cats, why not euthanize them? That way they will not feel additional stress from their "rescuers", including the cat hoarders?


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 17, 2013 at 5:24 pm

This is just devastating. As a member of the Stanford Cat Network and an "animal person," my prayers go to Carol and the cats who perished. They were lucky to have had a caring person save their lives when no one else wanted them. She is to be commended for helping them in their final years.

There are no words for such a tragedy.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm

"They were lucky to have had a caring person save their lives when no one else wanted them."

No! They were not lucky to be rescued. Only cat rescuers can think that way, because it is all about them, not the cats. Anthropomorphic arguments do not matter to cats, just to the humans that push such arguments. A comfortable euthanasia is much more humane than a rescue by the rescuers.


Posted by Cats are evil, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm

So this woman went around Stanford and captured cats , which she imprisoned in her basement-- in boxes. Where any offered for,adoption? Did they ever see the light of day? If she loved them so much, why didn't she make an effort to save them.
Is it true that in San Jose you can have as many cats as you want in your home?
This sounds very strange


Posted by CS, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I am a local cat rescuer. What I see here is a woman that started off with a big heart trying to save all these unwanted cats by society, but she became overwhelmed with too many cats and then the care declined. I 100% agree that cats should not live in cages. I am appalled by this and only use cages for a few days if an animal is recovering for surgery. Cages and crates are meant to be temporary not a living situation. This environment is a hoarding environment and should not be accepted by any city animal control. If you are bothered by what happened then contact the city shelter that was monitoring her.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 4 hours ago

"They were lucky to have had a caring person save their lives when no one else wanted them."

No! They were not lucky to be rescued. Only cat rescuers can think that way, because it is all about them, not the cats. Anthropomorphic arguments do not matter to cats, just to the humans that push such arguments. A comfortable euthanasia is much more humane than a rescue by the rescuers.

Jerry,
I think it's safe to say neither of us know all of the circumstances. My assumption is that Carole Miller took in unadoptable cats slated to be euthanized. If they had food and love, how can you say they would have been better off put to sleep? Many elderly people are bedridden, but still enjoy their meals and other small pleasures. Why deprive cats in similar situations of their lives? How arrogant of anyone to make that decision for voiceless creatures.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 17, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Cats are evil,

If you truly believe this (as did many unenlightened souls centuries ago), it sounds as if you've never known the joy of owning (or being owned by) one.


Posted by Sara H., a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 18, 2013 at 2:38 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Cats, cats..., a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 18, 2013 at 3:06 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Eric and Sasha Lee, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

We adopted two cats from the Stanford Cat Network, Pixel and Ninja. They have been incredible little bundles of joy from a lovely couple on campus.

I had no idea they kept cats like that in cages anywhere. I saw a similar thing in Hollister where this guy has/ had well over 100 cats in cages as well.

Regardless this is sad


Posted by Catastrophy, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm

"Miller said that her home was inspected by the proper animal care authorities who ensured that she could house so many animals at her residence. However, San Jose's Animal Care and Services Director Jon Cicirelli, said that she had been turned down for a permit to house that many cats. San Jose has a five-cat rule." Web Link

"Animal control last visited the home in January 2012 and told me the cats were healthy and the home clean, but she was not registered to have more than five cats in her home. Web Link



Posted by Cats are evil, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm

From one of the above links:
"He did, however, say that it was obvious Miller had cared for her cats, and that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or negligence."
Well if she was denied a permit and was way over the limit, then there is evidence of criminal wrong doing and negligence. I assume the authorities will be looking at charges.

Nora-- I am allergic to cats, so I would not have one of those disgusting creatures anywhere near me


Posted by Cat Crazy, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Where was Animal Control? Where were the directors of the Stanford Cat Network? 100 caged, trapped, and penned animals die by fire. The scene must have been right out of Dante's Inferno. You all are going to donate to rebuild this?


Posted by Catwoman, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Cats are evil said: "Nora-- I am allergic to cats, so I would not have one of those disgusting creatures anywhere near me"

So, whatever you are allergic to is automatically defined as "evil"? I find this rather strange; in fact, it's downright sociopathic. Either that, or you're a troll.


Posted by Another Founder, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I am another Founder of the Stanford Cat Network. The Network never intended one person to have a "sanctuary" for the unadoptable cats on campus. The Stanford Cat Network was founded to care for the cats on campus -- TNR those that are feral/shy, and adopt out those that are friendly. That's it. One person cannot properly care for 100 cats.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Another Founder - how successful is your program at Stanford w/TNR is Miller had 100 cats? Or, am I wrong in thinking she got them all from campus? How do you justify all of that TBR w/the decimation of the songbird population?


Posted by Another Founder, a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 9:01 am

With TNR the population of cats went from 500 in 1989 to about 15 today; that is success. The reduction in bird population on campus is due to destruction of habitat -- witness all the massive construction over the years, particularly near the medical center, which was undeveloped land.

SCN gets calls/emails from the community to help/take cats. That's where they came from.


Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2013 at 9:53 am

The Stanford Cat Network should not be judged by the actions of one individual in the group--someone who had good intentions but "got in over her head," as it is said. Yes, this was a hoarding situation, and it was out of control, and it should have been detected by Animal Control and brought to the attention of the rescue community, which would have taken action to responsibly save those cats. The work done by the Stanford Cat Network is cited by shelters and humane societies across the country as the one of the first and most highly successful of its kind: for having reduced the stray/feral cat population on a large campus through careful and methodical TNR (trap-neuter-return) plus maintaining controlled and monitored colonies fed regularly and humanely euthanised when the cats were too ill to survive outside and veterinary intervention would not have helped. Kittens were removed and socialized and then adopted. Families on campus are reunited with lost pets when they call upon the Stanford Cat Network for help. The actions of one individual do not speak for the group.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2013 at 11:49 am

Was this really hoarding? It sounds like the cats were all well taken care of. I'm not a fan of keeping them in cages, but I thought that the definition of hoarding was a bit broader & included animals that were neglected, not well cared for. How awful for all involved & the neighbors who heard it but couldn't help.

Another Founder - thank you for responding. I'm not convinced that feeding & TNR *don't* decimate bird pops, but of course they help reduce pop of cats. Fed cats also kill birds. I don't think that bird issues at Stanford can all be blamed on construction through the years - I'm well aware of all the construction there. Congrats on getting the numbers down. Suffering feral cats reproducing is avoidable & unfortunately, the issues don't get addressed til a problem is noticed & then it's often out of hand.

I've seen efforts to reduce the feral cat pop here in EPA & it's helped in some areas. It's always hard to work against communal ennui or lack of awareness.

I hope Ms. Miller's insurance will cover the structure damage & I'm glad that she adopted that pooch!


Posted by Volunteer, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I think it is clear that there is a mental illness at work here. Ms. Miller has pulled the wool over a lot of eyes.


Posted by heehaw, a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I'm not certain that identifying your neighborhood has anything at all to do with this article.

Carole Miller, while a founding member of Stanford Cat Network, did not embody the true entity of the organization's mission.

Carole was a hoarder, whether or not the element of "filth" was present, and I would be that the SJAC inspections were always preceded by Carole calling other people to come take x amount of cats to get her numbers down by the time of the visit.

I also know that photos taken after the file show litter boxes filled with feces, heavy duty uring, and general unhealthy conditions for cats. And if I remember correctly, her place was either 1,300 or 1,400 square feet, hardly enough room for 100 cats.

Most of the cats died because they were crated - so ask yourself - if you were in solitary confinement for months to years, would you be OK with this?

And Carole "taking it in stride?" This is an abject horror of a hoarder, and I believe Jon Cicerelli (sp?) of SJAC deserves to bear some of the responsibility - if there were check-ins, is there documentation? And if so, how many cats were on the premises.

I do not know if she is on the board of the Stanford Cat Network, but if so, she should be removed immediately. Stop using "Stanford" as a reason she must be a great person.

And, all the cats did not come from the campus; that is nonsense. Yes, there are irresponsible people who dump there, but this obsession has been many years in the making

Carole's response to anyone who wanted to visit? "No one enters my sanctuary." Hello? I thought a sanctuary is a place of peace and pleasantry.

And lastly, why didn't she open the FRONT door, from the living room, and open the doors to let as many as possible cats out? Most rescue folks have not only smoke detectors, but carbon monoxide detectors, file extinguishers, etc., as well as a very well thought-out plan about how they would try and save their animals.


Posted by heehaw, a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

To Cat Mom Leonorilda: Re your comment "The actions of one individual do not speak for the group." I imagine this can be both true and untrue. In the case of Carole Miller, she had protection from another board member of Stanford Cat Network for years and years.

The horror of this case brings to mind for me all the "good things" Hitler had planned for Germany. He then rounded up the ferals and unwanted (Jewish people) under the guise of "doing good," sent them off to sanctuaries (camps), left them in filthy conditions, and then burned them. Obviously Hitler was mentally ill. Obviously Carole Miller is mentally.

However, in this age, we have methods by which to change situations - truth is, SJAC failed, Stanford Cat Network failed, Carole failed to save even ONE cat, and now SCN is pleading for money to help her REBUILD?

Who with empirically based data would donate a penny to rebuilding, which in my mind, is direct support to revive Auschwitz. This I do not understand.


Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 23, 2013 at 10:32 am

To heehaw: I agree with you. Stanford Cat Network should NOT be requesting donations to rebuild a sanctuary that was anything but a sanctuary and appreciate your analogy, with the sole difference that the original precept was a very, very misguided "act of kindness." I still believe that not everyone in the Stanford Cat Network was of the same mind and the Stanford Cat Network needs to redefine itself in light of this horrific tragedy, step away from supporting another "sanctuary." And, yes, SJAC should have been more proactive from the start. My question is: what is SJAC going to do now to prevent other similar situations? And, what are they going to do to properly investigate this one?


Posted by Julie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I simply cannot wrap my mind around the negligence of Carole Miller to have one non-functioning smoke detector while being in charge of 100 cats. I cannot wrap my mind around how SJAC allowed her to keep 100 cats in crates which is simply unimaginably cruel to the animals. And I don't understand why a 501c3 organization, The Stanford Cat Alliance, did not have a plan in case of a fire, for evacuation of Carole's cats. Nor do I understand how a 501c3 would allow a 73 year old woman to take care of, on her own, 100 cats. Carole's neighbor said on the news she could hear the cats screaming. Did Carole, who was in her patio not hear the screams? Did she even try to save one helpless cat? SJAC must be sure Carole Miller is NOT allowed to rebuild. Will we the public remember this story once she gets her insurance payment and does re-build? Her negligence for the horrendous torturous death of 93 animals simply blows my mind.


Posted by Christina, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2013 at 4:24 am

Institutional fire safety measures are nothing less than a necessity if you have 100 cats in your care, as this Carole Miller person did. The apparent lack of such measures (which include a fire alarm, fire extinguisher, residential fire sprinkler system, and emergency evacuation plan) is simply unforgivable. The Stanford Cat Network organization as a whole is responsible for the negligence that caused the suffering and death of these cats. This tragedy could have been prevented, and as such is not far removed from animal cruelty.


Posted by Jane, a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2013 at 8:07 am

There was NO working smoke alarm in a house with 100 animals in it? There should have been several. I am stunned that this woman is not being charged and prosecuted. I have worked at shelters and with rescues in the Bay Area for 25 years, and having no contingency plan for fire, flood, or earthquake is unimaginable. In this case, she didn't even attempt to rescue even ONE cat, but escaped to wait with her dog safely outside. It looks to me like Carole Miller is playing the "pity" card pretty well in hopes of warding off a potential arrest or citation.


Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:04 am

Dashiell Hammett character, you know I was being provocative (in a way) talking about damaged people more likely to turn up as animal rescuers ("animal rescuers").
but it's not judgmental to say people are damaged.
It's accurate.
The only misleading thing was to suggest some people are not damaged.
mea culpa, mea maxima culpa


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