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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | WEST COUNTY

Adoptions of Black Cats Halt for Halloween

October 29, 1998|JENNIFER KNIGHT

County animal shelters are scratching black cat adoptions and warning animal owners to keep pets inside until after Halloween.

"There have been instances in the past, around Halloween, where cats have been used in witchcraft ceremonies," Mike Adams, acting supervisor at the Ventura County Department of Animal Regulation, said Wednesday.

Because of an increase in animal sacrifices in recent years by pranksters or in occult rituals, more than 20 black cats remain locked up in shelters throughout the county for safekeeping until Nov. 1.

And officials at the Humane Society of Ventura County in Ojai have taken things a step further, extending their ban on adoptions, which began Oct. 12, to include all pets.

"A lot of people riding up in the mountains have found pentagrams and a circle of fire with animal bones," said shelter director Jolene Hoffman.

Black cats, officials say, are targeted by satanic cults and others because of the folklore connecting them to witches, evil and the occult.

Superstition surrounding black cats dates back to the Druids, who believed that evil powers transformed humans into animals.

The connection to Halloween came from medieval times, when it was believed that witches, who were said to often turn into black cats, would fly on All Hallows Eve to perform evil deeds.

Humane officials say this time of year also can be scary for pets because of the noise made by loud children wearing costumes and ringing doorbells.

Halloween is second only to the Fourth of July in pets being taken or running off.

Animal owners are warned to keep all animals inside, possibly in a back room with a radio or television on. In addition, make sure pets have identification or a microchip so they can be scanned if they are lost, officials say.

Lastly, they say, try to have a current photo of your animal.

"If you don't take these steps," said Joyce George, board president for the Humane Society, "no amount of crossing your fingers, knocking on wood and holding your breath as you pass a cemetery is going to help."

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