A newly amended ordinance benefiting feral cats was introduced Tuesday by the Kilgore, Texas City Council. It will require careful monitoring of feral cats by colony caregivers.
The TNR program will allow Animal Control Officer Bobby Jumper to released vaccinated and spayed/neutered cats back onto Kilgore streets. It’s reported there are at least seven known thriving feral cat colonies in the city.
One major benefit of the ordinance is to require caretakers to report where their colonies are located, the number of cats per colony as well as other information that might be needed for the caregivers to receive public or private subsidies or assistance.
Before the city ordinance was passed the local animal control officers practiced ‘catch and kill’ because feral cats usually don’t have the temperament necessary to be placed for adoption. About 90 percent of 800 cats turned over to the shelter in 2018 were killed.
B.J. Owen stated in an interview with Kilgore News Herald
“We can alter these animals for maybe 40 percent less than what it would cost to have them euthanized. From an animal control standpoint, we’ve never bought into this. ‘Don’t release what you’ve worked to catch.’ It’s against our nature. It’s not what we’re trained to do.
I’m a believer in it now. I’ve seen this work. If I can see this is justifiable and fiscally responsible, there’s no other reason other organizations shouldn’t be able to do it.”
Under the new city ordinance, the caregivers must provide food and water up to three hours each day. They’re also required to monitor the health of their colony cats at least twice a week and let animal control know of any health issues. Animal control will have the right to trap any cats who appear sick, have bitten a person or pose a threat to public health.
This beats the old system where caregivers could be ticketed simply for trying to save a life. The new ordinance will also prohibit dumping feral cats in the city.
The city of Kilgore is charged $142 by Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center for each animal brought in. In 2018 the city paid $113,000 in fees for cats, Owen reported. The new ordinance will reduce the cost to between $70-$110.
City Manager Josh Selleck stated
“We’re not encouraging cat colonies. They’re already there. … We’re identifying, tracking and managing them in a more humane and less disruptive way than where they currently exist.”
In an ideal world, this type of ordinance would be the norm. Removing and killing a feral colony simply creates a vacuum effect. More cats (unneutered and unvaccinated) would soon take over, leaving an area with a never-ending battle.
Congrats, Kilgore. We need more of forward-thinking councils who understand TNR is better than euthanasia.