Leash laws against free-roaming cats means death for Murfreesboro shelter cats

TNR (trap, neuter, return) is a proven community program that cuts down on cat overpopulation while allowing a feral cat to live out the remainder of its life without adding to the number of cats in the respective colony. One animal shelter in Tennessee is learning just how much higher euthanasia rates can be when a TNR program isn’t in place, and can’t be put into place because it’s against county ordinance.

cages at Rutherford County, TN shelter are empty because of high euthanasia rate (News 5 screenshot)
Cages at Murfreesboro shelter are empty because of high euthanasia rate (News5 screenshot)
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Rutherford County PAWS, a kill shelter located in Murfreesboro, has seen progress over the years. In 2007-2008, 83 percent of cats were euthanized. That number is down to 42 percent for 2015-2016. September did show an increase in animals killed, which has shelter staff concerned. Shelter statistics show 109 cats were adopted, 163 cats were euthanized (42 dogs were also euthanized) and 55 were reclaimed by their owners.

PAWS director Michael Gregory says the euthanasia numbers are driven up due to the feral cat population. TNR programs that have helped other counties in Tennessee are illegal in Rutherford County. Cats who aren’t friendly and loving are considered unadoptable and most end up being killed because it’s against the law for cats to roam freely. Gregory stated in an interview with NewsChannel 5

“There are also shelters that have just stopped handling cats at all, they only deal with dogs. I don’t think we’ll ever see that here because of the number of complaints we receive.”

To help increase adoptions the shelter now has monthly adoption specials. Between October 26 and October 31, an adopter can name their own price on a pet. While this is a good start, cat advocates should take a stand before county government and push for a local TNR program. A list of Rutherford County commissioners can be found here. A list of Murfreesboro city council members and their contacts can be found here.

According to the leash laws of Rutherford County, any dog or cat may be picked up by animal control if not on the owners’ property. It will be taken to the county shelter and held for three business days. If not claimed, the county may put the animal up for adoption or kill the animal.

For those who say TNR is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars, and that feral cats should simply be killed at the shelter, the numbers don’t lie. If killing was the answer, the number of cats entering the shelter would never increase but the numbers have because feral cats not under a TNR program continue to breed. Many give birth to multiple litters each year. Low-cost spay and neuter programs for household pets is another option this county should look into.

Animal advocates, please reach out to the county and city council members and suggest they implement a TNR program for this area.


8 thoughts on “Leash laws against free-roaming cats means death for Murfreesboro shelter cats”

  1. There isn’t enough widespread statistical information happening. Rescue groups can only do so much.
    When a horse wins the Kentucky Derby or the Cubs win the pennant, it’s all over the news.

    But, when a shelter has a 50% reduction rate in euthanasia, it’s not considered news. So, no other counties get that information.

    Some of our remedies here have include posting that information wherever it is legal and showing up to city/county council meetings to be heard.

    It worked well here. However, TNR advocates and rescues still need to stay on top of kill shelters to make certain they are not being lax by ignoring eartips or not checking for microchips.

  2. The issue is always going to be the source of the problem. Humans who do not spay and neuter and dump their cats outside when they become sexually mature and no longer cute. Some shelter euthanize any cat that acts feral in their opinion. Which my friends could be your house fluff lost and scared to death.

  3. You’re right, the numbers don’t lie. That’s why the UK has been practicing TNR since the 1950’s, and all you’ve managed to do is increase your stray cat populations from 4.1 million in 1965 to 8.1 million in 2015. The trouble is, when are YOU going to quit lieing? It’s clear the numbers aren’t lying, but you are.

    • Hi Woody. How are you? You mispelled lying. TNR in the UK is not a big thing. We don’t do a lot of it as far as I know. Also you’ll need to tell me your source for the figures that you have quoted. Even then they won’t be reliable as all feral cat population numbers are essentially guesswork. You know that.

  4. I think this ordinance is a bit backward. TNR is considered the best way. It is gaining traction I believe in the USA as the only humane way of dealing with feral cats so to prevent it under ordinance is unenlightened.


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