Monday, July 16, 2007

Speaking Out

From the Saturday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

St. Paul considers plan to trap, neuter feral cats
Anthony Lonetree, Star Tribune

The city of St. Paul is prepping a pilot program to trap and neuter feral felines on Fridays. The catch-and-release initiative would be made possible by an ordinance being introduced Wednesday by City Council Member Debbie Montgomery. She represents the city's Frogtown area, where residents have claimed that feral cats are a growing nuisance and public health risk.

Bob Kessler, the city's licensing and inspections director, said Friday that the program -- to be dubbed Feral Feline Fridays -- could be launched in mid-fall in partnership with Animal Ark, a Hastings shelter that's overseen a trap-neuter-release program in Anoka.

The St. Paul plan calls for the city to enlist local volunteers to set out traps in the neighborhoods, and for Animal Ark's mobile units to pick up the cats on Fridays. They would be neutered and vaccinated, and then released back to their respective neighborhoods, Kessler said.

"We would only go where we're wanted," he added.

The city sees the program not only as a way to reduce the numbers of feral cats, but also as an opportunity to teach domestic cat owners not to let their felines run free.

According to the proposed ordinance, which distinguishes between feral cats and house pets on the lam, any domestic cat found away from home, and lacking proper identification, such as ownership or rabies tags, could be impounded. Their owners then would have at least five days to reclaim them before they would be offered for adoption or destroyed in a humane manner, the ordinance states.

Allowing a domestic cat to roam, Kessler said, "is not good for the cat. It's not good for the neighborhood." And besides, he added, "we don't let dogs do that."

My response to the editors:

Dear Editors,
I am writing in response to today's article "St. Paul considers plan to trap, neuter feral cats". I am a native Minnesotan who now resides in Tampa. I care for a colony of 20-25 feral cats, 17 of which have been sterilized through the Animal Coalition of Tampa's Project Spay Day. While I wholeheartedly commend St. Paul's initiative to implement TNR in their area (as it is the only proven means to effectively control a wild cat population), nowhere do I see an effort being made to educate citizens that feral cats wouldn't be "nuisance" if they were being properly fed and cared for. Sterilization is a huge step towards curbing a population explosion but feeding and caring for a colony of ferals to ensure that they don't scavenge is essential as well. Getting to know a colony through regular observation also helps control the population by making sure that any kittens younger than about eight weeks can be removed from the colony and put up for adoption. My experience has been that even the most passionate of cat lovers are unaware that feral cat colonies even exist and, sadly, similarly unaware of how rewarding caring for them can be.

Natalie F- H-
Tampa, FL

I doubt it will get published since this issue is so far under the radar still. But I'll let you know!


Runner Girl FL said...

Maybe also writing City Council Member Debbie Montgomery is a good idea too. She is trying to start a good thing and may benefit from your expertise. :)

MyUtopia said...

Where I work they tried to institute a similar program.

magnetbabe said...

My main goal was to express my opinion that everyday cat lovers can really enjoy caring for ferals besides their house kitties. That message is intended more to the public as that sentiment was neglected either by the paper or the City Council. If I don't get published, I'll definitely write to Debbie. But I'm hesitant to lend any "expertise" since I have zero credentials. It sounds like they are getting advice from Animal Ark who seem similar to ACT.

"Tried" implies it failed. I'd like to know what you thought of it.

Christopher said...

I agree with RG/fl. In fact, I think you should email a copy of your letter to the editor to Debbie Montgomery and tell her you are in town for another 6 weeks or so if she would care to discuss this further.

lefty_grrrl said...

I was talking to my mom about you tonight. I was telling her about your mission and the effort you've put into saving kitty cats. She was, of course, heart-warmed. See? You even make other people's moms proud.

magnetbabe said...

Awww, thanks for sharing that. I"m touched.

My letter didn't get published. I also wrote a letter to the City Council member but haven't heard back from her. Oh well, I tried.