Friday, May 08, 2009

Mt. Olive, NJ to Continue to Trap and Kill

On Tuesday, the Mt. Olive, NJ board of health decided to continue to trap and kill stray and feral cats, despite an outcry from the community to implement a TNR program. After three months of debating and reviewing a proposal by a local resident to pilot a TNR program, the board voted 5-1 to hold cats for seven days and then euthanize them.

Board chairman Ray Perkins said, "the (state) law is to trap, hold and euthanize, and we as a board are required to uphold laws." Board members were concerned that cats would not be able to be retrapped to update their rabies vaccine.

Of the 181 cats trapped in the township last year, 140 were euthanized, 38 adopted, and 3 were reclaimed, according to township officials. Some cats were feral while others were surrendered to the township by people who could no longer care for them.

Michelle Lerner, an attorney and Mt. Olive resident, collected 300 signatures from township residents in support of TNR and secured more than $2,000 in grants from the local humane society and the group Spay U.S.A. to fund the pilot project. "The entire point is to stop the proliferation of kittens," said Lerner. "It's not a solution to go in year after year and trap and kill kittens. More than 100 towns (in New Jersey) have TNR programs -- I haven't heard of one where it's not working to reduce the cat population."

"I'm horrified," said Cindy Little. "To say feral cats are better off dead is unthinkable."

Lerner said she plans to ask the township council to exempt feral cats from its licensing ordinance and to consider adopting the TNR program despite the board of health's rejection of it. "I have been contacted by so many people, and there has been such an outpouring of support for the program," Lerner said.
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ACR sent a letter to the Mt. Olive board of health prior to their vote providing the benefits of TNR and explaining how trap and kill is counterproductive; however, we received no response.

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