Councils across America sometimes struggle with the decision to authorise TNR programs or go with trapping and euthanising. Knoxville City Council has just gone through that process and they passed 7-2, on first reading, an ordinance which puts their seal of approval on a TNVR program. It puts him in line with other major cities in their state.
In the report on Knox News there is, sadly, no mention of the fact that of the two choices, TNR is humane whereas trapping and euthanising is not. Although PETA might disagree with me. In general, it is accepted that TNR programs are the most humane way of dealing with stray and feral cats while simply trapping and euthanising them is an admission of failure in disregarding the ethical issues which must be a major factor in deciding what to do.
Although this is the first reading the ordinance will have to be approved again on January 15 next year. It would mark a major change as to how the city deals with feral and stray cats. One councilman, George Wallace, said that the members were conflicted as to what to do. He made the point that it’s either trap and neuter and release or trap and euthanise.
The council hopes that the Young-Williams Animal Centre (a rescue centre) will receive less cats because the current method of proceeding is to take cats in and hold them five days before being spayed and neutered and then held longer to see if they are adopted. If they are simply spayed and neutered and returned to where they came from that frees up shelter space. Only of course this applies to adoptable cats which means domestic law semi-domestic cats.
The shelter euthanised 39% of cats during the past three years while only 4% were reunited with an owner. The new ordinance would correct that high level of euthanasia. Janet Testerman, CEO of Young-Williams said: “it’s a life-saving initiative. Less than 3% of cats get reclaimed out of the shelter, so ultimately it becomes a bad situation for them, and we know about that. We are changing animal welfare as a whole. We are spending so many resources holding cats in the shelter, waiting to see if they get adopted. We could divert what is now really a waste of expenditures and resources and reallocate them to areas that are really going to go much further.”
Mary Souza, associate professor of veterinary public health at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville said that community cat programs such as the one voted on by the council have limited success. She referred to peer reviewed studies to support her argument. She says that the evidence is not there. We hear this a lot from people who dislike cats and those who want to prevent stray cats preying on birds.
They argue that this sort of ordinance shifts the burden from animal shelters onto communities. I guess what they’re saying is that they take the animals out of shelters and put them on the street so that communities have to deal with them. People present counterarguments and Lauren Bluestone, the director of Metro (National) Animal Care and Control said that when Nashville made a change to a community cat program there was a decreased number of cats entering shelters by 50%. Apparently, it was unclear as to how Lauren came to that conclusion because the data was not presented, as I understand it.
In short, this is a typical argument between killing feral cats and operating TNR programs to deal with them humanely. In this instance Knoxville have decided to go down the humane route which should please the majority of citizens of that city.