Friday, July 13, 2012

Cat Lady Arrested for Dumpster Diving

We have a little kerfuffle here in the neighborhood.  A lady who rescues feral cats and finds homes for them was arrested for Dumpster Diving.  She was looking for food for feral cats she rescues.

Here is the article that appeared in the Cape Gazette today:

MILTON — Linda Compton is hoping the charges lodged against her for trespassing in a supermarket Dumpster are thrown out.
The 63-year-old Lincoln woman was arrested June 13 after she was observed and photographed searching through a Dumpster behind Food Lion in Milton. She was falsely portrayed as a local restaurant employee searching for food for human consumption when the photo went viral on Facebook.
Compton says she was collecting bits of discarded lunch meat, expired food or whatever else she could get her hands on to feed several feral cat colonies in the area, just as she's done for the last eight to nine years.
She was charged with third-degree trespassing by Milton police and will appear in court Monday, July 16, where she plans to plead not guilty.
“I understand why a store doesn't want people going in there,” said Compton's husband, Willie. “Their concern is automatically if you take something out of there, eat it and get sick, you're going to sue. She in the past has gone in and talked to managers and, for the most part, once she explains what she's doing, they'll say to go ahead.”
The photo of Compton, where she is wearing gloves and standing on a milk crate outside of the Dumpster, was posted on Facebook with a message claiming she was the owner or an employee at the China Wok restaurant in Milton. Compton said she was contacted by Milton police a few days later and taken into custody at her home outside Lincoln.
Willie Compton said he doesn't believe the charges will hold up in court because a no trespassing sign was not posted on or near the Dumpster, and no one told her to stop. A Milton Police press release of the incident claims a Food Lion employee told her to get out of the Dumpster and provided police vehicle information.
“If you put something in your trash can and put it out to the curb to be thrown away, I can go to your curb and go through your trash,” Willie Compton said. “The same thing occurs here. It doesn't matter who owns it.”
Compton has searched for food for feral cats in refuse bins for nearly a decade throughout Sussex County because it helps defray the cost of feeding the cats out of her own pocket. While traveling for work with the Visiting Nurses Association, she said, she would often stop at supermarkets and other stores to feed feral cats that congregate behind them. She has since retired, but occasionally she still makes trips to feed the cats.
The food she pulls from the dumpsters is often expired or unusable bits and pieces from the deli, she said. In many cases, Compton said, she explains her intent to the store manager and many are supportive of her efforts. However, the turnover rate of store managers is high and, she said, she often catches a new manager unaware.
“Some of the managers are really nice,” she said. “Once they see me and what I'm doing, they know that I'm telling the truth. A manager always comes out with an employee to put the stuff in the trash and some of the managers tell [their employees] to give me the stuff instead of throwing it away.”
But feeding feral cats from local bins is only part of her work. She also provides food to more than 30 feral cats around her home and cares for newborn kittens in her guest house when the situation arises. She also take traps out to colonies in order to have them spayed or neutered. In the case of kittens, she tries to take them in quickly so they can be domesticated.
“In Sussex County, we're just overrun with them,” Willie Compton said. “SPCA has a no-kill policy, which is a good thing. You admire them for that, but also as a consequence, they have no room to take in more cats.”
If Compton is able to take in kittens within the first four to six weeks of their lives, she is able to care for them before sending them off to be adopted at a Pet Smart store. She is currently caring for 16 kittens, which hasn't been an easy task.
“In some cases they're not weened yet, so she ends up bottle feeding and hand-feeding them,” Willie Compton said. “In some cases, if you take them away from their mother they don't want to eat.”
Kittens born in the wild also tend to have medical issues, such as eye infections. While Compton receives some help with the cost of the veterinarian bills, she pays for a lot medicine and procedures out of her own pocket. She spent more than $750 last month. She also buys cat food to feed kittens rather than feed them food she's picked from the trash.
“I don't mind because it needs to be done,” Compton said.
She also receives some financial help from area feral cat and animal-control organizations. Willie Compton describes his wife as a soft-hearted woman who has a passion for caring for the many feral cats in the community.
“We feel like it's a community service,” he said. “It's very important to Linda.”
The Comptons' efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Compton said on several occasions she's found a box of unwanted kittens in her driveway because people know that they will be cared for. Ultimately, she said, it comes down to providing the feral population with a better life.
“When I go out there, I see that they are so thin and not healthy looking,” she said. “It's a hard life out there.”

I wish Bill didn't hate cats.  I would definitely take those two orange kittens.  

It just breaks my heart to hear and read about feral cats and kittens having to fend for themselves in this harsh world.  

I'm not a religious person but I do feel that there should be a special place in Heaven for people like this lady and all those who help our critter friends who all they want to do is survive in this world.  

A blogger friend of mine recently wrote a blog about how he is overwhelmed with taking care of about a dozen feral cats that his former neighbor used to take care of now they look to him for survival.

Survival is on my mind recently because I am now reading a book about the Bataan Death March and prisoners of war of the Japanese.  I read of the horrific conditions that these prisoners had to endure just to survive.  I recently finished a book about a Jewish woman who was a slave laborer for the Nazis in Poland during World War II.  Same story of survival that just broke my heart.  

Most of us have an easy life and don't have to do much to survive a good, comfortable long life.  The least we can do is to help those who are less fortunate than we are, especially animals like feral cats.  

Sometimes I get depressed about the selfishness of human nature.  I think a lot of this has to do with Mitt Romeny (The Liar) who is running for president.  Such a selfish man and so many like him (the Tea Baggers in this Republican Party which isn't your father's Republican party).  

I try so hard to not get depressed when constantly barraged with the evilness that "businessman" like Romney do to get their millions while the hell with everyone else.  And they still don't have enough,they want more.  And this is the man who put his dog on the roof of his car for a 12 hour vacation trip.  

I know, I know.  I'm all over the place here but I think the readers of this blog who are more serious about life will understand what I'm trying to convey.  Reading this news about this woman is the perfect antidote for all the bad news today.  Isn't it ironic that even though she is doing the right and good thing, she's in trouble?  That's the problem with this world today.  Do the right thing and someone will try and take you down.  


Jon said...

It is truly ironic that this woman is in trouble for doing something good. The world is completely askew - - and the real criminals are running free.
I can certainly identify with her - - now that I'm caring for a brood of abandoned cats and four kittens. I would never want to see them starve. Finding homes for these critters isn't easy, but every one of them deserves love.

Bob said...

I'm baffled by what crime she committed by digging in a dumpster. If people are throwing things away, and she can find food for these cats, then what's the rub?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron, Interesting story about your cat woman. I am betting the judge dismisses the charges, or the store gets public pressure to drop the charges. If this is her first offense she should be ok. Maybe the publicity will get her donations of food, too.
Did you hear the story about the lifeguard in FL? Some kid is a beach lifeguard, guarding a private beach. A guy was drowning in an area out of the private beach, in an area marked "no lifeguard, swim at your own risk". The lifeguard, knowing he was breaking company rules, goes out to rescue the drowning guy. When he writes up the incident report, he knows he will be fired. His company's policy is that if someone is drowning outside the private area the lifeguards are to call 911 only. The lifeguard was fired, the other lifeguards he works with all quit in protest, and the negative publicity the company got forced them to offer the kid his job back.

Ron said...


No, I didn't hear about that lifeguard in Florida. It doesn't surprise me though that he lost his job. The reason he lost it was that the company or town he works for is probably afraid of being sued because he went against policy. All these stupid decisions are based on our very litigious society, where people sue for just about anything thinking they have a chance to hit the Mega Millions lottery. Then again there are those in a position of authority who are just plain stupid. Probably a combination of both. I'm glad he was hired back because he did the right thing.
Thanks for sharing that story Lynn.


Ron said...

Here's the thing, the person at the Food Lion, which is where I do most of my grocery shopping by the way, this particular Food Lion, were probably afraid she would eat or sell that food and someone would get sick and they would be sued. Or maybe they were just plain stupid. As I said to Lynn, another commenter on this blog posting, probably a combination of both. I think this will end well though because she is getting a lot of positive publicity for a problem we have down here at the beach. So many of the day trippers and visitors have a cat then leave them when summer is over. This lady isn't the only one who takes care of the feral cats. She is to be applauded instead of harassed for doing good.

Ron said...


Unfortunately there are so many people who do good in our world today who are punished for doing that good. It seems like almost every week I read a story like this that is just plain stupid. Someone trying to help someone else and then is punished. This is the kind of thing that depresses me. One of the reasons I write my blog is to vent my frustrations and keep from going crazy when I hear of stories like this.
Thank you again for taking care of "your" feral cats. I know they were dumped on you. You are a good person to have feelings for these animals which have been abandoned. My good friend Larry and his wife take cats that are unadoptable from the animal shelter and care for them the rest of their lives. Occasionally they rescue a kitten (they have one now). These are the people I respect, not someone like Mitt Romney and his ilk who are out to rape this country.