Originally published on Facebook March 5, 2012
The expanding cat population in Salina has been a sore subject for many years. There is a solution, according to the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse (AAGS), and they have provided the Town Board with the research to prove it.
What’s the Problem?
For many years, the Town has employed the Trap and Kill method of controlling its cat population. Cats trapped by the Town Animal Control Officer (ACO) and taken to the CNYSPCA could be stray, feral or even owned. After a waiting period of five days, the cat may be placed for adoption if friendly, or killed.
The Town pays the CNYSPCA $150 for every cat it brings in. In recent years, this cost to the taxpayers has amounted to as much as $20,000, according to Linda Young, President of AAGS.
“If this method actually worked, there would no longer be cats in Salina,” Young says. “The problem is that this approach is completely counterproductive and only makes the problem worse.”
According to the ASPCA, “Eradication, the deliberate and systematic destruction of a feral cat colony, by whatever method, almost always leads to the “vacuum effect”—either new cats flock to the vacated area to exploit [the] food source . . . or survivors breed. . . . . Simply put, eradication is only a temporary fix that sacrifices animals’ lives unnecessarily, yet yields no positive or beneficial return.”
So What’s the Answer?
What does work, according to most experts, is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), which is endorsed by all major national animal welfare organizations as the only solution to the problem of cat overpopulation. Cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated against rabies. Kittens along with friendly adult cats are removed from the group and placed for adoption, typically reducing the numbers by about one-third. The rest of the colony is returned to their outdoor home under the watchful eye of a caretaker, who provides food and shelter while monitoring the colony for signs of illness, disease, as well as newcomers. This sterilized colony acts as a placeholder, usually repelling un-altered cats from entering the area. TNR is not an immediate fix, but it is a permanent one. Over time, the colony shrinks due to attrition, and may eventually even disappear.
OK, So What Does it Cost?
TNR would save the taxpayers a lot of money. Almost three cats can be TNR’d for the $150 cost to trap and kill a cat. In addition, grants are available from companies such as PetSmart, Petco, and others.
Rome, NY recently proclaimed TNR the official method of feline population control, and a group of volunteers was formed. According to a recent report on their first year, “ . . . . . . we have affected 98 adult cats and 27 kittens. Adoptables were found homes in a cooperative effort with the local humane society and the others were returned to their colony caretakers after being neutered, microchipped and vaccinated for rabies. . . . . .When owned cats were trapped the owner was counseled when necessary on the importance and availability of low cost neuter assistance. . . . . Next year we hope to affect twice as many cats.”
ZERO Tax Dollars!
Robin Yager, Co-founder, adds, “All expenses of the R-CAT program are covered by PRIVATE donations and fundraisers. ZERO tax dollars are involved in the program. In these days of fiscal prudence and competition for every tax dollar, volunteer efforts can be a way to keep costs and budgets under control. “
Unfortunately . . .
“The Salina cat law,” says Young, “holds that members of a TNR’d colony ‘belong’ to the caretaker, who can be subject to substantial fines should ‘their’ cat commit a ‘crime,’ such as ‘trespassing’ on a neighbor’s property. This provision makes finding volunteers for a TNR project within the Town nearly impossible. We have asked the Board to put a moratorium on this punitive portion of the law, but so far they have not done so.”
What Can YOU Do?
- If you believe TNR sounds like the solution to Salina’s cat overpopulation problem, contact your ward counselor to request the passage of the moratorium on penalizing TNR caretakers for annoyances caused by cats they have altered.
- If you are having problems with cats in Salina, contact Linda Young at 457-4420.
- If you have questions, or would like to volunteer should the moratorium be passed, please contact the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse at email@example.com .
- Opposition to TNR for Homeless Cats Misguided, Says National Animal Welfare Organization (prweb.com)
- Troy, Mohawk Hudson Humane Society to partner for trap-neuter-release program (troyrecord.com)
- A Call for Action (blogs.windsorstar.com)