New law in Illinois will allow a portion of pet registration fees be used for TNR and low-cost spay and neuter

A new law in Illinois will go into effect on January 1, 2018, where counties can opt to use a portion of pet registration fees so low-income families can afford to spay or neuter their pets and feral colony caregivers can tap into animal population control programs developed to reduce the feral cat population.

Photo courtesy PAWS Chicago
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The new law was signed last month by Governor Bruce Rauner and is a four-step program known as TNR (trap, neuter, return) or TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and return). Communities of under three million residents can use the $10 revenue per pet registration fee set aside for low-income residents.

Under the bill sponsored by Senator Linda Holmes, counties in Illinois will be able to tap into their animal population control funds to support programs aimed at reducing feral cat populations, thanks to legislation signed late last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Holmes explained that each county can determine where the needs are in their respective community. Poorer areas may want to use 100 percent to ensure residents can have their pets spayed/neutered while more affluent may want a larger percentage of their funds to go toward TNVR.

In an interview with WTTW News, Senator Holmes explained

“It could mean less money to low-income if the community has decided it would rather put [funds toward] feral cat programs. You would base it on the needs of the community. Some communities may not need all of those funds [for low-income residents], so they can certainly put them toward the feral cat program. I think it’s a positive step and a much more humane approach to dealing with feral cats.”

Since Cook County exceeds the 3 million residents living in the county they’re exempt from the new law. According to Dr. Donna Alexander, Administrator of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control, Cook County passed its Managed Care of Feral Cats ordinance in 2007, allowing animal humane societies to sponsor feral cat colonies. Trained caregivers are helped in maintaining and caring for their colony and the cats must be neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and eartipped.

The feral population in Cook County has been reduced by 20 percent since the 2007 program was put into place. Before the Managed Care of Feral Cats ordinance, the county was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to capture and kill feral cats. This method was unsuccessful and the population wasn’t reduced, Senator Holmes added. Having a successful program already in place is why Cook County was exempt.

Feral colony caregivers are financially responsible for their cats but Cook County provides rebates for cats spayed and neutered during February, which is the peak breeding month. Euthanizing feral cats creates a “revolving-door problem” in which new feral cat colonies replace those that were removed, Senator Holmes stated.

More on the new law can be read here.


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