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November 2006

Belle, the resident cat at the 92-acre AT&T complex in San Ramon had lived on this site for 11 years under the nurturing umbrella of the company. In 1995 she bore 4 kittens, which were placed in loving homes. With the help of the Feral Cat Foundation, Belle was spayed, vaccinated and had been cared for by a network of dedicated employees who made sure she received food and water 7 days a week. On March 9, 2006, an AT&T employee, Donna Marie, found rat poison in Belle’s dish along with a plastic rat poison bag. Belle has not been seen since. Over the years previous building managers have been supportive of the employees taking care of Belle. But a new building manager, Carrie Wyatt, was now in charge. In a previous email received by Donna Marie, Ms. Wyatt, stated, “Given the rodent issues, I can not allow you to continue. I need you to refrain from feeding the cats.” When notified of the poison, she denied authorizing anyone to use it.

Donna contacted Voices For Pets. She stated that she had kept samples of the rat poison and the bag that she had placed in a plastic bag to preserve fingerprints. Voices For Pets distributed500 Reward Posters throughout the complex of 8,500 people asking for information. We received many phone calls. Some were calling to offer support, some were Belle’s caregivers, others told of a number of dead baby geese plus 2 dead swans that had been purchased by AT&T for their lake. These swans had the ends of their wings cut off so that they could not fly away.

I went with Donna to the San Ramon Police Department to report the crime. We spoke with Officer J. Nunn. Officer Nunn was obviously displeased at having to use his time on a “case such as this.” His persona and body language were the essence of a good ole boy. When we stated that we would like him to send the rat poison packaging to the crime lab to obtain fingerprints, he said “Well I can send it to em but I doubt they would do anything with it in a case like this.” Officer Nunn stated that “Before becoming a police officer, I did pest control for a number of years.” When I asked him what kind of pest control he had done, Nunn replied, “Well you know--pigeons, squirrels, raccoons, whatever was a problem...”

Obviously there was no chance of obtaining justice for Belle in the good ole boy system of priorities. Voices For Pets is not anti-law enforcement. We’ve known many officers who would have responded differently and would like to give top priority to all violent crimes.
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