TNR Reality Check
Legislation pertaining to feral cats may be proposed in municipal, county or state government. Normally an ordinance to permit the managed care of feral cats is introduced at the municipal or county level following a presentation by a TNR advocate or group. Stay abreast of this topic by attending municipal and county meetings, reading the local paper, visiting the municipal and county websites and checking local and county Agendas and Minutes. Ask your municipal clerk/administrator/manager and public health officials about this issue. Use search engines and enter key words that include your municipality and/or county and 'feral' or 'free-roaming cats' or 'Trap-Neuter-Return' or 'Trap-Neuter-Release' or 'TNR'.
Check local papers for notices of public hearings and make sure you attend them prepared to speak on this subject stating important key points as to why TNR should not be instituted. Utilize this website and the website of the American Bird Conservancy (www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/index.html) to back up your argument. Do your own research as well.
Ask your county shelter or whatever organization intakes animals what their position is on free-roaming and feral cats. Visit their website. Speak to your local Animal Control Officer . These are all good indicators of what may be coming up in local and county government.
Speak and write to your Assemblymen and women and State Senators.
Call and write to the Board of Chosen Freeholders for your county.
Contact local, county and state health departments .
Keep in mind that whenever legislation is passed what is crucial is how terms are defined and the language that is used.
Discuss liability issues. If TNR is to be enacted, colony caregivers should be made the legal owners of the cats. Ask who will be liable should something happen.
Discuss cost savings. TNR advocates claim there is always a savings to government if TNR is introduced and this may very well not be the case. Ask your municipal council or committee to review this thoroughly and insist they demand detailed information from those who are proposing the legislation.
Push for cat licensing and anti-roaming laws, as well as mandatory spay/neuter for owned pets.
Focus on endangered, threatened, and rare species (including species of special concern) and those species that may be endemic to your area. If TNR is to be enacted, insist that a clause to use due consideration under the Endangered Species Act be included. Suggest that a true compromise would be to fully enclose cat colonies so that the cats and native wildlife can both be protected.
Watch for language that defines a feral cat by location rather than by temperament (i.e. a feral cat that would be defined as such by living at a barn or on a farm).
Watch for language that defines nuisance in such a way as to indicate that something must be taking place habitually. As a property owner you should not have to tolerate more than one instance of cats destroying or damaging your property.
Watch for language that impedes cat removal or relegates who may trap or remove a cat.
Watch for language that presumes cats are vaccinated or up to date on vaccinations (i.e. an ear-tipped cat is presumed to have received at least one rabies vaccination).
PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE SHOULD BE THE PRIORITY. NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT SHOULD BE A PRIORITY. LET THOSE WHO MAKE THE DECISIONS THAT AFFECT THE LIVES OF YOU AND YOUR FAMILY KNOW THIS. AND THEN, VOTE ACCORDINGLY!
For a summary of the basic problems regarding TNR:
Feel free to email us information pertaining to pending legislation in your state that could have an impact on native wildlife, public health, quality of life, or the welfare of domestic cats.
Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.