Q: Has anyone heard about the update on the Hemingway Home?
The Hemingway Home and Museum has been battling the USDA for almost 5 years for the continued freedom of the over 50 cats that live their lives on the grounds of the historic Key West home of one of America’s greatest writers. Most of the cats that call the historic property home are direct descendants of Snowball, a polydactyl kitten said to be given to Hemingway as a gift by a visiting sea captain. The cats are big part of what makes the Hemingway Home the special place that it is but to dedicated staff at the Hemingway Home these cats are their pets. The staff names the cats when they are born and mourns and bury them when they die. They are extremely well cared for including weekly visits from a veterinarian. So one may ask what the problem is?
The USDA, spurred into action by a disgruntled neighbor, determined that the Hemingway Home property boundaries did not sufficiently inhibit the 50+ cats from leaving the property. They made several official recommendations to the Hemingway Home over the past 5 years but none were practical as they would irreparably damage the Historic Landmark, be cruel to the cats, dangerous to the ½ million annual museum visitors or would otherwise just not work. In a good faith attempt to appease the USDA, Hemingway Home constructed a chicken wire top to the walls surrounding the property but the USDA dismissed it as insufficient.
By the fourth year of the battle both sides had spent countless thousands of dollars. The Hemingway Home’s money was spent on dueling efforts attempting to comply with the USDA while fighting the validity of being regulated by the USDA at all. The USDA’s spending included “staking out” the Hemingway Home for evidence of escaping cats and mid winter visits to the sunny south Florida location by higher ranking Washington-based officials to access the situation. In this fourth year the USDA made their most meaningful move to resolving the situation by contracting renowned animal behaviorist and professor at the University of Florida in Miami Terry Curtis, DVM.
The “cat whisperer” as she is known in her field, unlike the USDA officials and inspectors, took into consideration the historic nature of the property and the safety of both the cats and museum visitors when she made her recommendations. She determined that the property could indeed be secured without safety concerns for people or cats, without sacrificing the property’s historical integrity and otherwise be in complete compliance with the USDA law. Dr. Curtis determined the property should be surrounded by Purr…fect Fence™, a patent pending cat containment system made by Purr…fect Fence LLC.
Earlier this year the Hemingway Home bought and tested a section of the Purr…fect Fence on a section of their perimeter. The management and staff were impressed with its construction, functionality and minimal visual impact to the property. For its part Purr…fect Fence was delighted to be part of the project and donated the balance of the fence needed to complete the project (800 linear feet and several gates). They also sent the company VP, Matt Hough, to inspect the installation and handle some challenging aspects of the historic property.
The 5 year battle between the USDA and the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West Florida came to a quiet conclusion. An inspector came on a scheduled visit. Upon the completion of the inspection, the inspector determined the Hemingway Home and Museum was in complete compliance the Animal Welfare Act and granted the Hemingway Home a license.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Matthew Hough, Vice President
Purr…fect Fence LLC
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