Stanford Cat Network gets shakeup following death of a hundred cats | August 16, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 16, 2013

Stanford Cat Network gets shakeup following death of a hundred cats

Leadership regroups; university considers ending contract

by Sue Dremann

The Stanford Cat Network, a nonprofit organization that cares for feral cats on Stanford University's campus, is teetering on losing its contract with the university following the resignation of its board president, the group and a university spokesperson have confirmed.

A hundred cats died in a fire at the San Jose home of Carole Miller, president and co-founder of the network, on July 16. She narrowly escaped with her life. Firefighters found her huddled with her dog in a screened, outdoor patio she had created for the many cats she said she was trying to save. Only seven survived the blaze, according to animal-control officials.

The presence of so many animals in one home shocked members of the local cat-rescue community. Some former network members accused Miller of animal cruelty and of being a hoarder, and they have pushed for charges to be filed against her. Miller has denied the accusations, saying that animal-control officers routinely inspected her residence.

The former members approached Stanford's provost to force a change in the nonprofit's leadership or to terminate the group and bring in another organization, they said.

An ouster would end a 24-year relationship between the university and the cat network, which was founded in 1989 by campus employees to save an estimated 1,500 feral cats roaming the campus. At the time, university officials planned to trap and euthanize the sick and starving cats, but the Stanford Cat Network had the animals spayed and neutered and took up their feeding and care. The cat population has since dwindled to between 35 and 50 animals through adoption and attrition, and the network became a nationwide model for no-kill programs for homeless cats.

Last Friday university officials hinted they were about to sever the contract with the nonprofit and bring in a replacement. But network board members, under new leadership, have asked for a chance to be heard, said Lisa Lapin, associate vice president for university communications.

"We were poised to take action, but we do feel obligated to have a conversation with them," she said. A resolution won't be made until sometime after Labor Day due to vacations by key decision makers, she added.

Miller was apparently replaced last week, though during an Aug. 9 phone interview she denied she had stepped down.

"No one has resigned," she said.

Kirk Gilmore, the new president, said he talked with Miller and they agreed that her resignation would be best for all concerned, he said.

"She has submitted her formal resignation, and it was agreed by the board to accept her resignation. In the future, Carole will not be associated with the SCN board in any capacity. Her SCN duties will be primarily field work where feeding will be her main responsibility," Gilmore wrote in a letter to the Stanford Cat Network community on Aug. 12.

A second long-term board member, Marjorie Weesner, will be formally resigning once her replacement has been identified and agreed upon by the current board, Gilmore said. She did not return a request for comment.

Gilmore, an engineering physicist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, said he hopes the changes will encourage the university to retain the nonprofit. The university "has to protect their high-level image. We want to do whatever we can to protect that as well," he said. The board also seeks to develop a good relationship with the community, he added.

He acknowledged the resignation would be difficult for Miller.

"It's a pretty major change. The cats are her life. She's been there since day one. So much has happened to Carole. My heart goes out to her. But to heal properly emotionally and psychologically from the fire and her cats and the political upheaval, this is the right thing for her to do; to distance herself from the board and let us do what we do — to do what's best for the cats," he said.

He added that her "heart is in the right place."

San Jose Animal Care and Services has been investigating Miller and was planning to submit the case this week to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office for review, said Capt. Jay Terrado of field-services operations.

"It will be up to the DA what charges to file if they decide to take the case," he said in an email on Monday.

San Jose Animal Care has come under fire by the cat-rescue community for allowing Miller to keep the cats at her home. The agency was working with Miller to reduce the population, a spokeswoman said in July. The home was last inspected in 2012 and was deemed to be clean at that time.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


Posted by Catfriend, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I hope that Carole has at least one good friend, brave and true, who will give her a big hug and help her get into long-term, in-patient treatment. This is a complex and very difficult to treat condition, see: From the ASPCA
Web Link

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 16, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Time for Stanford to cut ties with an organization lead by an out of control cat hoarder. Had someone else done this to felines, this Carole would be screaming bloody murder. She should be charged and an investigation in how the city let her get away with this- based on her claim that animal control okayed her for caging up 100+ cats.
If mr Gilmore wants to maintain his ties with Stanford , he should not be making excuses for her. He should also look into how this organization let her get away with these crimes against animals.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 5:58 pm

[Portion removed.] Why would Animal Control let her do this? Why did the OTHER board members allow this, or did they know what she was doing w/all of the animals? Why didn't they stop her sooner? What about Stanford - were they aware, & look the other way, you know, to maintain their high-level image" (insert eye roll here). Those of us in the Stanford community would like to know how much officials knew about this.

Posted by SCN long-time volunteer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I am sorry to say, as a long-time SCN volunteer, that many people knew that Carole Miller was a hoarder and were unable to do anything about it. Kirk Gilmore and Marjorie Weesner were both notified that she had around 100 cats and that cats brought into her home became very sick and died. Adobe Animal Hospital also shares in the blame because they prevented their own vets from reporting the situation which is obvious from their medical records. It's not good enough to leave SCN in place with Carole Miller in a reduced role. [Portion removed.] So long as she is associated in any with cats in this area, cats will be hoarded by her and will sicken and die in her possession. There are many people who are eager to help create a new and very humane program for Stanford. Let's move on and let them do it!

Posted by madison, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm

[Portion removed.]

San Jose Animal Control has been in CYA mode since this happened. They denied her a permit to operate as a "shelter" or "sanctuary" and then went back to their desks.

Among hoarders, they'll call one another when a visit is schedule and have cats removed temporarily by other hoarders. The other day I was coming home from the vet with my cat, who hates being in a carrier. He kept vocalizing and putting his paws through the front panel opening, and it made me wonder what Carole M's cats went through in desperation.

[Portion removed.] San Jose Animal Care and Control is supposedly forming a "committee" to ensure this doesn't happen again, which will be no more than a group of people getting together, talking (versus doing) about how to handle these sorts of things, and then go back to their desks. They made ZERO unscheduled visits, not that Carole M would have let them in.

[Portion removed.] Jon Cicerelli (sp?) should be ashamed of their non-results... After all, it's top down that determines the actions to be taken. In his case, the PR emails and letters were not enough to save 120+ cats from dying.

Carole Miller should not be allowed to have a pet again, period. 120+ cats in a 1,400 SF home is like having 14 or more people living in a studio apartment. [Portion removed.]

Posted by megan, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I believe it is the job of local Animal Control to identify hoarding situations/hoarders as well as responsible rescue groups. Animal control should work with responsible rescue groups to resolve hoarding situations, and no animal, unless that animal is terminally ill and in severe pain, should die. I hope this scenario is the one that San Jose Animal Control is moving toward implementing in the future. The kind of tragedy that took place in Carole Miller's home should never be allowed to recur.

I am horrified by the thought of Carole's having a feral cat, notched and with a chip, in her home living long-term in a trap! No responsible rescuer would ever allow this. This cat should have been returned to his colony or re-homed in another colony.

And, yes, Carole Miller should not be permitted to have more than the maximum number of animals allowed by county law. She is anything but a responsible rescuer. It is my hope that San Jose Animal Control is conducting a thorough investigation.

Stanford Cat Network, which was known for its good work in the past, should sever ties with Carole and work toward renewed recognition in the Stanford community with new leadership dedicated to truly helping cats rather than imprisoning them.

Posted by Bonnie, a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm

It is beyond tragic that someone who gave so much of her time, money, and passion to helping homeless and feral cats has had this tragedy happen. Shame on the people who are judging her now. She has helped numerous communities and their feral cats for decades.

I knew Carole when I worked at Stanford. She is highly intelligent, articulate, and compassionate. Her educational efforts and negotiation skills kept THOUSANDS of cats from being trapped and killed on the Stanford campus alone. It was Carole who convinced Stanford administration that scientific evidence showed that a method called TNR, Trap, Neuter, Return, was a humane way of reducing the roaming cat population, and it worked. She organized volunteers, and wrote the feeding guidelines that served as a model for State Fish & Game and many many other feral cat colony caregivers across the nation. She set up a similar program at Foothill College.
She moonlighted at a local pet store to help buy food for the cats, and spent her own money on veterinary care.

When I was head of humane education at Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV), I worked with a coalition of organizations, including San Jose Animal Control, veterinarians, and many people like Carole to reduce Santa Clara County's homeless/feral cat population.
FACTS: There are an estimated 125,000 homeless cats in Santa Clara County.
~Cats represent 2/3rds of all animals in shelters and are euthanized at a far greater rate than dogs.
~Santa Clara County shelters euthanized approximately 14,000 cats in 2005 at a cost of approximately $2.4 million.

Carole deserves our thanks.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Bonnie-- Carole was a cat hoarder. Carole kept 100+ cats prisoner n cages in her home. Carole most of these cats die in a fire. Carole broke the law, with apparently the aid of animal welfare in San Jose.
Carole should be facing charges and should be spending time in therapy. Carole should be treated for her disorder. Carole should not be allowed to be anywhere near a cat again.
Stanford should make sure that Carole has no further dealings with the SCN. The SCN should cut all ties with Carole.
[Portion removed.]

Posted by registered user, SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Shame on you all.
The Lady lost her Home.
She lost Cats she cared about.
Cats who others did NOT care enough about to spay and or keep.
Cats who would otherwise run greater risks from cars and wildlife, +foraging+ for food or shelter.

What is sad is the 'Inspectors' missed the lack adequate emergency evacuation exits. This is no different than the problem that houses previously had with non-open-able 'Security Bars'.
A simple sprinkler system made from Lawn care materials might have kept the cats cool enough during a fire to be rescued (Cats are only insulted when drenched, not dead)


Posted by robit noops, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I got my cat from Stanford Cat Network nearly a decade ago. He had been released into one of the feral colonies by the horse stables, but was pulled out and kept in shelter for adoption. I also would watch cats on campus when I worked at Stanford for a decade. I hope someone takes responsibility for caring for the cats that are living on campus, and not rounding up and euthanizing them. It is a shame that this persons issue has caused a problem.

Posted by Bonnie, a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Dear Not an Issue:

"Shame on Carole for not doing anything to save them." -- This you know how? You were there? You obviously don't know Carole.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Bonnie-- how could Carole sva those cats-- they were caged. No way she could save them. Plus when they found her, she was cowering in a part of the house far away from where she kept the cats imprisoned. Shame on her for hoarding cats. [Portion removed.]

Posted by SCN past volunteer, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 18, 2013 at 8:58 am

Bonnie and others, You obviously have not been in contact with Carole Miller recently. It's no good telling us what she was like in 1989. She has every symptom of a hoarder. She is under the delusion that only SHE can take care of cats. [Portion removed.] Stanford University and SJACS, shame on you for not doing more to ensure that animals who were ultimately under your protection were not monitored in some way.

Posted by rescuer, a resident of Stanford
on Aug 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

Virtually all comments made thus far are valid:

~Carole has done a tremendous job to benefit the feline community for many years. Her work has had a nationwide impact.
~The Network and all of its founding and continuing members have had a huge impact on the campus, caring for the cats, serving the community and being a leader in TNR.
~None of this balances out the horrendous tragedy that has occurred. Carole has a serious illness as a hoarder and needs treatment.
She does not recognize this and will not get treatment unless it is court-ordered. She will start this process all over again unless the court system forbids it.
~People knew,organizations knew - likely no one knew there were 100 cats living in carriers 24/7, some of whom were adoptable. Carole guarded her situation VERY closely.
[Portion removed.]
~Suspicions were reported, welfare checks were requested - to no avail.
~There were many reasons for this failure: bureacracy, power, reputations, fear, apathy, and mental illness.
~The cats who relied on humans for their care & protection were the losers.

The course, moving forward, is clear: everyone needs to do better: SJ Animal Services, the vets, the SCN board members, friends of Carole(MW), and Carole herself.

The DA and the courts need to make sure that Carole receives therapy and is not a repeat offender.

Stanford University is not culpable, but they need to take the next step: re-form the organization with a new board consisting of knowledgable faculty, staff, and students.

Carole may not be sitting on the SCN board now - but she is still running the show...

Posted by Jennie, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Ask people about Carole? Yes, especially those over whom she was a department manager in Electrical Engineering at Stanford and others who knew. She spent more time on the cats than managing. The department was known for strife and problems. She was more concerned about her @#$% cats.

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 6:58 am

I am so glad I'm petless.

This issue should not have been a story. Wby did it blow up into one?

A simple reason: animal people.

Many of the people drawn to volunteer for rescue organizations are damaged.

This situation could have been easily resolved if the board members had been normal, even if the member who had the "sanctuary" was sick. They could have been forceful and cut her off. They could not do that or even see the need to do that after July 16, 2013. Even as late as August 9th, that step had not been taken.

However, what is clearly worse here is the whole animal rescue community in this area and the way it rose up against Miller, a long time associate of theirs. What's so bad is the hypocrisy, not acknowledging that they themselves know people who engage in this behavior and in fact depend on having such people around to make animal rescue look "nice" -- nor do they admit that many of them have come close to doing what she did. The vindictiveness of this community has now probably condemned future Stanford cats.

Way to go, guys!

It was also injudicious to publish this article.

However, thinking a little more about this, I don't think petlessness is going to help me. Actually what we see here is part of survival of the fittest, and something not just confined to animal people. No, survival of the fittest demands that you turn on the weak and tear them to pieces.

Anybody want to cast a stone? Anybody?

Posted by Melissa, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

Two days after the fire, an officer at San Jose Animal Care and Services told me that they knew Carole Miller, had frequently visited her operation, and were NOT pursuing charges against her-that she wasn't a hoarder and that the cats were kept in a clean environment. The City of San Jose allowed Carole Miller to warehouse cats whom they had not been able to adopt out, and it was irresponsible of them not to insure that those cats, totally helpless and dependent on Ms. Miller, had the same protections as those in their own facility. An animal shelter with a permit would have had smoke detectors in each room, if not sprinklers. The fact that Stanford and SJ Animal Care and Services knew the situation makes them accountable along with Ms. Miller.

Posted by Helper, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:20 am

WHERE were all you bashers when she needed help with housing and adopting out all those cats???? There were plenty of ads and pleas. I was a bad situation, true... and easy to judge now, but what did YOU do to help SCN??? Quit bashing and get to HELPING someone or some cat!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Bonnie, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

Dear SCN past volunteer and rescuers,

If what you say is true, then it is all the more tragic. Those that fall into mental illness, of which hoarding is one, desperately need help. It is also possible that she has incurred a possible neurological problem. A professional medical and psychological evaluation is needed, and I hope Carole gets both.

One of the traits of a true hoarder is the inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care. Adobe does not provide free services. That said, I have not seen Carole since about 2007. People and circumstances can change.

In the end though, when she meets her Maker, I'm sure the number of lives Carole saved over the decades outweigh the ones tragically lost in her home fire. I am not excusing hoarding in any way, nor defending the possible lack of oversight by all involved, just putting things into the ultimate larger perspective, which none of us know.

Peace out.

Posted by Julie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Thank you to your paper for keeping this story alive. I agree with Melissa that SJ Animal Services played a role in this tragedy by allowing the warehousing of 100 cats in crates at Carole Miller's home. As someone involved in cat rescue, I can say that no respectable cat rescue crates cats. Cats are not comfortable in crates for long periods of time. It is animal abuse pure and simple what Carole Miller did. She was not a service to any cat that lived his/her life for months or even years inside a crate. If a cat was trapped who was adoptable, he/she should have been at the shelter or a foster home where the public could visit to adopt. If a cat was too sick to be released and not adoptable, he/she should have been euthanized. The fact that Carole Miller crated 100 cats AND had no working smoke detector is criminal. I am hoping she will have charges pressed against her AND Stanford severs their ties with Stanford Cat Network unless they re-organize and replace their board with competent people who have the cats' best interests. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter and RETURN, not Trap, Neuter, and Imprison.

Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm

"rescuer": Thank you for your comments and your judicious analysis of what happened and what needs to be done. We can only hope that San Jose Animal Control takes decisive steps to make sure that a situation such as the one at Carole Miller's house does not happen again and that Carole Miller is not allowed to continue hoarding cats. Why is it taking so long?

Posted by madison, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

businessdecision: I too am glad you are not a pet owner, for a few reasons:

From you:

Your comment: This issue should not have been a story. Why did it blow up into one?

A. Um, because over 120 cats died in a fire. If 120 kids died in a locked school room, I imagine that would have been a story too. Or 120 marine mammals. Or 120 spiders. Or 120 of anything in a fire. It's called news.

• A simple reason: animal people.

A. On what empirically based evidence is your "simple reason: animal people" based? You are petless - what knowledge have you of "animal people?"

• Many of the people drawn to volunteer for rescue organizations are damaged.

While it is true that some people recuse animals as a validation of their hatred of humans, there are a great number of people who resuce animals on a case-by-case basis to help them, and to find them homes. And they are not hoarders. Hoarding is a mental illness, whether it's animals, nuts and bolts, paper, string, whatever.

I would imagine you carry baggage of some sort of your own, animal related or not.

And finally, I disagree that other animal organization "rose up" against Carole Miller. She did not allow anyone in "her sanctuary," nor did she allow anyone to help her. How you would this as preying on the weak tells me you do not know Carole Miller, nor other hoarders who may have supported her, but certainly basic logic would dictate that not every rescue person is damaged or a hoarder, any more than everyone who eats apples has red hair. It is a ridiculous example.

And finally, you spit in the face of the people who do work with animals AND people to assist them on a case-by-case basis and consider each of these a victory. We do not hold 120+ animals in our homes and consider it an act of "compassion." In fact, I would imagine that most animal rescue people who are in it for the animals would rather see these animals enthanised than living in crates, cages, and traps, which would seem to me to be cruel and unusual punishment under the guise of "a sanctuary." If that is anyone's description of a sanctuary, I'd personally rather be dead myself.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

And speaking of damaged people, what about those high numbers of sociopaths with powerful positions in the business world? All of us in animal rescue know about the freaks 'n geeks, but they've got nothing on Wall St. You can't fix crazy!

Posted by Summary, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:09 am

What happened to those cats was horrific. Something similar happened at a rescue shelter in Berkeley ... the same place that would not allow people to adopt without signing a contract to always keep the cat inside. A dryer caught fire and something like 50 cats died a horrific death.

Rescue folks do a great service and I appreciate their love for animals. But they also tend toward arrogance, toward a belief that only THEY know what's best for animals. They need oversight, something that was sorely lacking in this tragic SCN case.

Time for Stanford to move on, pay credit where it is due to this woman who did a lot of good when she was younger but now clearly has psychological issues and needs to be put out to pasture.

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm

madison, the story about 100 or 120 cats being killed already was in the news a long time ago. The other story, about animal people going after one of their associates or former associates, we didn't need to have. Yes, they are trying to get this hoarder now that it's too late. They couldn't get her before. Why? Because it's just not easy to stop that behavior. It sounds like they knew for years and if so they need to accept that there is only so much anyone can do and not keep dragging us through it. OK, I exaggerated about animal people, but why? Because I don't want them airing all this stuff about how rescuers can deteriorate over the years without anyone being able to stop them, however true that is. And why do I not want that to happen? Because it reinforces the stereotypes against animal people and makes it harder for them to set up organizations in the first place or to save their organizations when they are threatened. The heartache involved when people have to abandon their efforts is so bad that you might wonder whether it was worth trying to help in the first place.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Businessdecision says: "And why do I not want that to happen? Because it reinforces the stereotypes against animal people and makes it harder for them to set up organizations in the first place or to save their organizations when they are threatened."

Luckily, it's not not true. To "set up" an animal rescue organization depends on what type of animal, where, what the governing laws are & if it's to be a nonprofit or not. I've worked w/various animal rescue & animal welfare orgs, including setting up a nonprofit. I've worked against the grain of current rescue trends, & have helped create important trends. This is done through education, education, education. It's also done by setting a good example, by being sane & making sure that public safety issues are addressed.

Sometimes the bad news needs to become public, for prevention and education purposes. Sure, a hoarder may not be cured, but they can be prevented from obtaining animals, &/or monitored (better than in this horrifically failed scenario).

Animal rescue folks who refuse to cultivate good relationships w/other people are doomed, in one way or another & the animals suffer as well. As all humans age, the cultivation of good mental health is important, & that's true w/all animal welfare efforts - it perfectly dovetails w/the cultivation of good human relationships.

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

hmmm, you are so full of optimism. You think all it takes is education.

For me, no. The more people start contemplating the likelihood of hoarders being present in these organizations, the more trouble these organizations will have.

Now the non-hoarders are running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to stop this person from ever hoarding again, and they're pleased, as you are, to see the publicity they are getting in this wonderful cause. Maybe they are forgetting their own guilt.

Now they are guilty of something else, causing revulsion against animal people.

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I should have said "their own guilt" and not their own guilt because I really doubt that it's possible to stop hoarders before it's too late.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Who're all these revulsed people turning against the animal rescuers & where are they? Who's running around like a chicken w/their head cut off? Sure, this is a scandal, but people will move on. They can move on for the better if they put something in place in their org to prevent a future, similar problem.

Pretty funny to call me an optimist - my animal welfare attitude is actually based on gritty, in the trenches, really life experience, much of it heartbreaking & frankly, some of it terrifying. I haven't seen the changes in some areas of animal welfare where my experience & expertise lie & sometimes it literally keeps me up at night. If I was an optimist in this area, I'd accept the wonderful surface level changes & sleep like a baby. But I'm only peripherally involved w/feral cat work as I have a different calling.

I do know enough to know that Miller's local animal welfare agency, aware of what was going on, were negligent. That was the opposite of education because they maintained a dangerous status quo.

And yes, education is key, for most aspects of animal welfare. That's how change occurs. Before you get burned out or have to turn to other endeavors, as is inevitable, if you can make sure that others are there to educate, rescue, etc., then the important work continues. This isn't what optimism has taught me, but decades of experience.

This tragedy caused a storm of outrage, but storms pass. If the outrage is put to good use in this organization, they can prevent future problems. That's all that they can control - their own organization. Having allowed Miller to control everything previously was clearly a mistake, so it's up to the rest of them to determine a direction that is better for the cats & still supports its members' sanity.

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm

But it's not up to them.

Posted by KittyKittyLickLick, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Cat hoarders are heroes in their own way. These cats had no where else to go and if this HERO had not taken them in they would have been brutally killed by the devils at Adobe animal hospital and the like. she only saved 100 cats? she shouldn't have stopped until she saved 1000 cats!!! cats are gentle creatures and all get along very well. they would be happy to be around other felines. it's horrible what happened to those cats in that fire but Carole is a hero and should not be slandered in such a disrespectful way! she lost her home for Pete's sake! HER HOME!!! have a heart people <3

Posted by No Kill Shelters?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I'm wondering whether there is a correlation with those advocating no-kill animal shelters and those who hoard cats. When the no-kill shelters fill up, the hoarders "rescue" the cats into their own animal shelters.

And why is no one talking about all the wild birds being killed by the feral cats? Web Link "Cats kill up to 3.7B birds annually" Why should the feral cats have more of right to live than the wild birds they kill?

Posted by KittyKittyLickLick, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm


by birds i'm assuming you mean RATS OF THE SKY!! why should these flying rodents have any more of a place in our hearts than the beloved animals worshipped by ancient Egyptians? did you know that birds carry more diseases than the average public toilet seat? birds are meant for thanksgiving and we should not be worried about poor kitties feeding their bellies with these flying critters.

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Aug 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community, on Aug 19, 2013 at 6:58 am

Many of the people drawn to volunteer for rescue organizations are damaged.
That is absurd. As with volunteers of any organizations, people of all sorts are drawn to try and help causes that move them. And you feel perfectly comfortable passing judgement on them.

Posted by SCN long-time volunteer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Let's get a few facts straight.
1. Yes, quite a few SCN volunteers suspected or even had medical evidence that Carole Miller was a hoarder, and they DID try to stop her. They called San Jose Animal Services without effect. They contacted Stanford University's leadership without effect. They tried to work with Adobe Animal Hospital to ensure that some vets reported the problem to the proper authorities. It is not just one or two people who reported Miller. It was dozens.
2. The main reason why Carole Miller ended up with so much control over SCN is NOT that she was doing all of the work or even most of the work. There are dedicated on-campus feeders who are not Miller and Miller never did any of the fostering-to-adoption work.
3. SCN was never short on volunteers to help with feeding or fostering. Many of them were rebuffed by Miller, however, especially if they expressed any doubts about her behavior.
4. The SCN Board routinely questioned Miller about her "sanctuary," but she was evasive and untruthful. Multiple board members resigned over this issue.
5. Key volunteers also resigned over Miller because they could not stop her from hoarding and did not want to be part of it in any way.
6. It is not easy to keep a hoarder from collecting cats if an agency like San Jose Animal Care and Services refuses to step in. People cannot follow a hoarder around 24/7 and knock her down every time she picks up a cat. Yes, Adobe Animal Hospital, Stanford University, and the SCN Board all could have done more, but stopping a hoarder is very difficult if she has a private home.
7. It is NOT a service to anyone to hoard animals. There are two humane ways to deal with stray cats: trap-neuter-RETURN for unadoptable cats ("return", not "imprison in a cage for life") and fostering-to-adoption for adoptable cats. Hoarders may it harder for good rescuers to carry out either of these tasks successfully. Hoarders give TNR a bad name because they only pretend that they'll return cats: they don't. Hoarders also give fostering-to-adoption a bad name because they deprive animals of the health and socialization that would make them adoptable. Thus, when they are raided, their cats are unadoptable. That does not mean that the cats started out unadoptable! It does not help that hoarders ruin the reputation of rescuers in general. No good rescuer likes a hoarder: they prevent TNR and adoption from working and make everything harder.
8. Miller did not only take in cats who were old, unhealthy, or otherwise likely to be euthanized. There is plenty of medical evidence for that. Any one who doubt it should be calling Adobe Animal Hospital and demanding to see the records.
9. There are plenty of people who are glad to do the real work for which SCN was responsible, but they refuse to work with Miller. You have to get rid of Miller in order to get volunteers to rejoin and to get community support. Keeping Miller is a recipe for there being no organization capable of rescue work at Stanford.

Posted by registered user, Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Some of the comments here are way off base. As "SCN long-time volunteer" aptly summarizes, the solution consists of a more active role by San Jose Animal Control that includes open dialogue and communication with bona fide rescue groups and the revamping of Stanford Cat Network without Carole Miller at the helm or in the organization in order to rebuild the volunteer base and get back to the real business of saving cats. That is what needs to happen now. The fate of the cats imprisoned by Carole Miller should never again be the fate of any cats in any rescue organization.

Posted by registered user, Palo Alto Resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm

[Portion removed.] My family tried to adopt from Stanford Cat Network after our beloved cat passed away from old age. Carole came to our house and practically interrogated us for 3 hours. She was convinced any cats adopted to us would be run over in the street, even though I assured her all my cats have been indoors. In front of my parents, she said those cats would not be well-cared for by them since I was going to college soon (despite the fact I'd be coming home once a week since the college was local). Nothing assured her we were good enough even though I told her of my own work with feral cats at my college. When she refused to adopt cats to us because we were not "responsible," we were heartbroken; she rubbed salt in the wounds of our grief for our recently departed cat. Later, former and current SCN members told us she wouldn't let anyone adopt because she was a cat hoarder.

Why did San Jose Animal Control let her keep so many cats in her house and why did vets at Adobe fail to report her abuse and neglect of these cats? I hope she is charged for animal abuse and that a judge requires her to undergo therapy and never allows her to own another animal.

It's ironic that she would not adopt cats to my family for fear we were "irresponsible pet owners" but that 100 of her cats died because they were stacked in crates in a house without a smoke alarm. Only now can I see the true extent of her mental illness. However, Carole did a lot of good work for the feral cats at Stanford. I truly hope that the cats on campus do not suffer because of human short comings and that they are cared for, whether by SCN or another non-profit.