Bay County Animal Control have decided that they will only accept kittens and cats by appointment after July 8th 2017. If the shelter is full (the 75 cat cages are occupied) the name of the caller will be added to a waiting list.
The new method is controversial. Some people see this as an abdication of their responsibilities to deal with stray cats, suffering on the streets.
From the shelter’s point of view it is an attempt to make the agency a no-kill shelter and treat cats more humanely. It would seem to me that in reality the decision is based upon the idea that it is best for outside cats to find their way home or if they are feral cats to be trapped, neutered and released. If a lost and possibly unwanted cat is outside then bringing him/her to a shelter at capacity is more or less a death sentence. However, you could argue that leaving the cat outside to die under very difficult circumstances is worse.
Also, Bay County Animal Control have decided not to lend traps to people for catching feral cats to bring to the shelter. The agency is also making its all-night dropbox accessible by law-enforcement officers only. Citizens will no longer be able to drop off cats or dogs at night with no questions asked.
One reason for not loaning out cat traps is that many of the cats being picked up are domestic cats and they have a better chance of surviving if they are left to find their way home. Shelter says that once at the shelter they only have a 2% chance of being reunited with their owner.
One argument that they make at animal control is that when the shelter is full the stress levels go up and the spread of upper respiratory infections also goes up. They’re trying to reduce the number of cats at the shelter and to reduce the number of euthanisations. But are they passing the buck from the shelter to TNR volunteers and the cats themselves? They are leaving cats out there to fend for themselves. To some people it seems like a callous decision.
The shelter argues that this new policy is a better use of public funds and more humane for the cats. Another argument that the shelter makes is that when they have to euthanise too many cats they can begin to suffer from compassion fatigue.
The shelter suggests that if citizens are bothered about “nuisance feral cats” they should call the Humane Society of Bay County to get them involved in TNR.
What do you think? Is the shelter abdicating their responsibilities towards cats or is their decision practical and more humane?