City administrators allowed police officers to shoot feral cats

Under a Jefferson, Iowa city ordinance the city administrators permitted police officers to shoot feral cats dead as a method of euthanasia. They also permitted the police to distinguish feral cats from domestic.

There was uproar from residents and I can understand why because you cannot euthanize a cat by shooting it. There are better and more ways.

The city administrator Mike Palmer reported that Mayor Craig Berry told council members that he had discussed the practice in a meeting with people from the Animal Protection and Education organization together with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. Having discussed the matter it seems common sense prevailed and they suspended the shooting of feral cats by police.

Under the ordinance residents could obtain cat traps from the police. When feral cats had been trapped they could notify the police who would pick up the traps and shoot the cats dead.

They say that the officers were trained to recognize whether a cat is feral or someone’s pet. I’m not sure that that was a good idea either. There were, therefore, two problems with this ordinance (1) relying on police officers to distinguish between semi-feral, feral, stray and domestic cats as this can be complicated and (2) euthanizing feral cats by shooting them dead.

It is surprising to me, and I am open to the views of others of course, that a city administrators decided upon this course of action which was flawed if you look at it from the perspective of treating cats humanely.

The Washington Post reports that the city review might take up to 18 months to complete. In the meantime the administrators are looking to house up to 30 cats which have been trapped already.

A spokesperson for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa said that shooting feral cats is not best practice and that there are better methods. They are working with the city administrators to reduce the number of feral cats through TNR programs and using humane methods of euthanasia.

P.S. As an afterthought, it is almost certainly illegal to shoot feral cats in the state of Iowa. My distinct impression is that in nearly all the states of America it is illegal to shoot feral cats mainly because it is (1) cruel and in violation of animal welfare laws and (2) impossible to distinguish between domestic and feral cats with absolute certainty.

This ordinance is a reflection on the struggle that many city administrators have on how to deal with feral cats. They tend to swing between funding TNR programs or mass euthanasia (culling). However, this is the first time that I have read about a city ordinance permitting law enforcement to euthanize by shooting.

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Source: Washington Post

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