Lawrence Humane Society asks City Commission to consider a TNR program for feral cats

The Lawrence Humane Society is asking the City of Lawrence, Kansas to consider a request to allow cats who have been trapped, spayed/neutered and vaccinated to live within city limits.

Feral cat pictures
By Chriss Pagani under a CC license.
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The current situation in Lawrence is bad for feral cats. The Humane Society admits to euthanizing dozens of feral cats each year (up until 2016) because feral cats can’t be adopted out.

The proposal would allow organization workers to trap the cats, have them vetted, then return them to the area where they were trapped.

Until 2016 all feral cats coming into the shelter were euthanized. In 2017 a total of 64 cats went into a working cats program where the cats go to control rodents in barns and industrial areas. Only three were euthanized. No feral cats have been euthanized in 2018, according to LHS Interim Executive Director Meghan Scheibe.

The major concern with the barn cat program is feral cats don’t like being caged while they await a barn home. The length of stay for a working cat averages 38 days while tame cats usually find a home in 13 days. A TNR ordinance would allow some of these cats to go directly to a working situation (if one is available)instead of having to wait in the shelter hoping a barn home comes along.

The city staff reports it doesn’t have enough information yet to make an informed decision but are looking into it since Topeka and Kansas City already have TNR programs in place and Wichita is considering one.

City staff would be enlightened to look into including a case study in Alachua County, Florida where researchers documented a 66 percent decrease in shelter intake of cats from a “target” zip code of focused TNR efforts, compared with a 12 percent decrease from the rest of the county.

Advantages to a successful TNR program include (info taken from bestfriends.org)

  • Reduced shelter intake of cats and kittens
  • Reduced shelter deaths of cats and kittens
  • Stabilized and (over time) reduced community cat populations
  • Reduced number of nuisance complaints

Officials will meet on Tuesday to discuss changes to the animal control ordinance. A memo to the commission

“This is a large discussion item that warrants additional time for creating a collaborative plan between the Humane Society, the City, and any other stakeholders, as well as receiving valuable public input.”

The meeting Tuesday will ask for another meeting to be held in several weeks after more information is studied to see how a TNR plan will help the city. The Lawrence Humane Society is asking animal control to create a prohibited animal list to replace the permitted animal list they currently use.

City Commission will also discuss updates to the existing animal control ordinance, “including sections that limit the number of cats a person can own to four and that create a three-tier approach to identifying animals as a nuisance, dangerous or vicious,” LG World reported.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

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