Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DC suburb considers feral cat protection bill

From The Examiner, by Marc Selinger on June 26, 2012

A Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., is considering a bill aimed at reducing the trapping and killing of feral cats by animal control officers.

The legislation, introduced by Prince George’s County Councilmember Mary Lehman, would protect outdoor cats who are unsocialized to people and who have been sterilized through a “trap-neuter-return” or TNR program. Feral cats who go through a TNR program are eartipped, which means that while they are under anesthesia, the tip of their left ear is removed to indicate they have been neutered and vaccinated.

Under the bill, animal control officers who trap an eartipped cat in the field would have to release him or her immediately “if the cat is not attacking humans or other animals, damaging property, or offending the human senses by urinating in a yard or yowling in the middle of the night, etc.,” Lehman policy analyst Matt Dernoga told June 25. An eartipped cat who ends up at the county animal shelter would have to be held for three work days instead of being euthanized immediately, and animal control would have to give feral cat groups an opportunity to rescue the cat.

Although neutered feral cats are usually not licensed pets, Lehman considers it “wasteful and unnecessary” to euthanize them because they “are not a public health threat” and because they have caregivers who invest significant amounts of time and money getting the cats spayed/neutered, feeding them regularly and providing shelter, Dernoga said. Lehman's bill was prompted by complaints from caregivers in Laurel whose eartipped feral cats were trapped and euthanized by county animal control.

Dernoga said the bill represents “a small step forward” to reduce euthanasia at the county shelter, which takes in an estimated 150 to 200 eartipped feral cats a year, most of whom are put to sleep. Overall, the county shelter has euthanized an average of more than 3,800 tame and feral cats a year over the past three years, according to an overview of animal euthanasia in the county.

The council’s transportation committee approved the bill unanimously on June 19. The measure "will come to a vote before the full council on July 24, and is expected to become law," Dernoga said.

In a related matter, Dernoga told that Lehman hopes to foster collaboration between the city of Laurel and the county on a pilot TNR program that Laurel is working to set up.

The Alley Cat Rescue office is located in Prince George's County, Maryland, and we fully support this bill.  We have been in a constant struggle with the animal control agency regarding the treatment of feral cats in the county, and the amount of animals that are euthanized there. 

If you reside in PG County, please contact your representative to the county council and express your support for the feral cats in this county.  You can find their contact information here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Only dogs and NOT cats are legally subject to impoundment when owners fail to remedy a properly cited complaint, under CURRENT law in Prince George's County, but THIS bill could be taken as making the impoundment of cats without any recourse whatsoever. The failure of this County's animal control to comply with any other parts of law make me doubt very much that it will suddenly see the light and refuse to accept any cat, eartipped or not. This will allow animal control to cast ANY cat as "sick" or "injured" or "a danger to public" or a "nuisance." It is bad law. Caretakers and really anyone who cares about animals in Prince George's County should have real questions about the intentions of the County in making such a law, particularly when the County has long actively opposed TNR.