This American story is another example, a current example, of the need for an independent study on the effectiveness of trap-neuter-return (TNR). If as I suspect, TNR was conclusively found to work and be in the long term best interests of both cat and the community, then this story would not exist.
I am told by Alley Cat Allies that the Commissioners of Brevard County in Florida have decided to reduce local government support for TNR.For more than ten years there has been a pro-TNR ordinance (local law) in place in Brevard County that supports and manages TNR programs run by volunteers. Under this ordinance, feral cat colonies are registered with the county. This provides protection for the colony of cats and it seems formalizes the registered TNR program. In other words a registered colony has the blessing of the local law makers, who represent the people generally and therefore registration of a colony is in effect the acceptance of the people of the county that these feral cats have rights! Nice.
It would appear to have been a successful partnership. And of course it must have reduced the numbers of cats in animal pounds or shelters who are eventually, and usually, put down. Let’s not forget too, that well managed TNR programs allow local people who care about animals to express there compassion in helping the maligned and neglected feral and stray cat. These volunteers are also taking up the responsibilities of those who abdicated their responsibilities in allowing their cats to wander and breed. Volunteers who run TNR programs are amazing people who are highly civil minded. They work for the community and derive pleasure from the task at the same time. Those are my views….but…
Clearly the commissioners of Brevard County don’t think TNR works for the community. Steps have and are being taken to restrict TNR programs. From May 2012 the commissioners suspended the registration of new feral cat colonies. That clearly restricted progress and it must have sent out a signal that the local law makers don’t like TNR or at least have misgivings about these programs. This is not the first time nor the first place where this shift in attitude has taken place. Something similar happened in Los Angeles no long ago. In Los Angeles the change in attitude was due to lobbying from bird conservationists who say that TNR programs keep feral cats alive and feral cats kill native birds. You can see the difficulties and counter arguments. But these arguments are often based on biased or misrepresented information; hence the need for better information.
Not only have the commissioners stopped new registrations they are planning to place further restrictions on TNR programs. Alley Cat Allies want the previous system to be reinstated because it worked. If you have time please lobby the commissioners. Their email addresses are on this page (if you right click the email address link you can copy it to your clipboard and use any email system you have).
Now, why do the commissioners have doubts about the current methods? What has happened to change their minds? That is my question. I searched their website and found nothing to help. In fact it doesn’t work that well! Sorry but I wanted to find out if there was a new appointment amongst the commissioners and if that new appointee, perhaps the senior commissioner, believes TNR does not work.
There are many people who believe TNR does not work. It is the only humane way we have currently of managing feral and stray cat population numbers. If people believe the only way to deal with feral and stray cats is in a humane way (compared to simply killing them) then the only option is TNR. On that basis alone the commissioners of Brevard County should change their minds.
But wouldn’t it be good if the federal government or state government had funded a proper, independent (no political interference) study that found TNR to be effective? If Alley Cat Allies and the TNR volunteers had that document they could wave it at the commissioners and if they refused to listen the could make a successful application to court for judicial review on the basis that the decision of the commissioners was irrational.
Please support Alley Cat Allies in their task of changing the minds of the Commissioners of Brevard County.
Photo: by jimmywayne