West Orange Township, New Jersey has passed a ban on the feeding of stray and feral cats. Residents and visitors to this New Jersey community are now banned from feeding wildlife warning:
“No person shall feed any wildlife, excluding confined wildlife, anywhere within the Township.”
The previous ordinance only disallowed feeding on West Orange owner property. The new ordinance includes private property as well. In other words, a home owner can’t feed a stray cat in their own back yard.
According to a September 25 report by NJ.com, Ordinance 2419-14 was passed on September 9 by a 2-1-2 vote by the West Orange Township Council. Council President Susan McCartney and Councilwoman Patty Spango voted in favor of the ordinance while Councilman Joe Krakoviak voted no. Councilmen Victor Cirilo and Jerry Guarino abstained. You read the ordinance in full by clicking on the link below:
Kate Riviello says: Our group nokill-newyork.org and New York Animal Rights Alliance America will be gathering at 6pm on October 21, 2014 outside of Town Hall to protest and demonstrate against this ban.
We will enter into the Town Hall at 7pm sharp to present public comment to be entered into public record. I will be in West Orange handing out fliers to the residents to encourage their attendance and participation.
This ban is unconstitutional with government intruding into the lives of private citizens on their private property and it is inhumane on every level. We will offer help and solutions to the town of West Orange for their perceived problem with community (feral) cats.
For the citizens of West Orange who feel they need assistance and are not receiving it, please call our organization (845) 856-7366.
The nearly 500 nuisance calls on stray and feral cats resulted in 598 cats being impounded over the same period between 2010 and June 2014 is what prompted West Orange Township to initiate the feeding ban. This year alone, 68 complaints have been filed and 81 feral cats impounded.
Former West Orange resident Kathleen O’Malley, TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) Manager at the ASPCA, pleaded with the Council to reject the ordinance, and instead adopt a TNR approach toward the cats. West Orange Health Officer Theresa DeNova said she had cautioned residents against feeding the cats, but needed a mechanism in place that would allow fines to be handed out to repeat offenders. She brought up the topic of cats being the third cause of rabies in the United States, behind raccoons and skunks.
O’Malley told the council a TNR program would require additional taxpayer dollars if undertaken by the ASPCA, but it would seem this would be a lesser evil than paying to trap and euthanize the many feral and stray cats that are trapped and picked up by animal control. In many areas, being feral is an automatic death sentence by those who don’t believe a feral cat can ever be tamed enough to become a house cat. In reality, so can and some can’t.
Officials appear blind to the statistics that feral cats who are TNR’d are spayed/neutered, vaccinated against rabies and tested for feline diseases. The town doesn’t understand that trapping these cats without a TNR program only means more cats will show up to take their place. The problem will never be alleviated with a feeding ban.
West Orange said it would consider a TNR program in the future. The State Office of Animal Welfare refused to comment on whether West Orange has a higher than average number of stray and feral cats.
Animal Protection League of New Jersey programs director Janine Motta, a supporter of TNR, says one method used to estimate the number of stray or feral cats in an area is to divide the human population by 15. This would show West Orange has a much higher count of cats, about six times what complaints determined.
There are many concerns being questioned about the new ordinance. One concerned the feeding of birds in the area, since birds are considered wildlife. The response to birds was:
“The ordinance was not intended for birds,” said DeNova. “but we would address the problem if it was a problem.”
This sounds suspiciously like feeding birds may also be added to the ban, should they become a “problem.” Personally, I think this ban is total lunacy. It’s also interfering too much into what a family does on their own property, since the ban against feeding stray or feral cats also includes feeding on private property. So if a resident places a bowl of food and water outside to feed a hungry cat, they’re guilty of violating the ban. And we all know fines will eventually be imposed, because cat lovers are going to feed these cats-no matter what.
Will people eventually be arrested and go to jail for feeding cats? West Orange is most likely dealing with a ban that won’t work regardless. A similar ban was passed in South Orange and failed.
Sources: nj.com and the Alternative Press.