Should cat rescuers be protected from themselves through laws?
Cat rescuers often use their hearts not their heads.
Successful and sustainable cat rescue has to be run like a business. There needs to be a business-like approach and this is the difficulty because many kind people who love cats want to help but on some occasions lack the necessary business skills and end up having a hard time coping emotionally .
Good intentions and a kind, tender heart are not enough if a rescue operation involves a largish number of cats.
I can envisage a cat rescuer being emotionally sandwiched between the desire to help unwanted cats and the difficulties of making it work because of financial constraints and the sheer workload.
Ruth Chiasson, the president of Thibodaux-based HOPE for Animals rescue says
“Their hearts are in the right place, but when you commit to rescuing an animal, you have to take care of it financially and physically”
I think she has made a good point and it begs the question whether cat lovers who are would-be cat rescuers sometimes need to be protected from themselves through state laws.
I am not a great fan of imposing laws on anyone least of all cat rescuers but when it goes wrong society has to fall back onto general animal welfare laws concerning animal cruelty when it might be better to have legislation which imposes some standards on cat rescue to ensure it is successful while protecting both cats and person. They need not be strict or harsh laws. They could be gentle and forms of guidance. Law can change behaviors. Law can be used proactively and they can protect animals (from abuse) and humans (from litigation).
I have just written a short article on laws about trapping cats. They were created for the citizens of Ulster County, USA. They are useful and protect both cats and the people doing the trapping.
We are seeing some unhappy failures in respect of cat rescue. The Westberry saga was a high profile case. She was being prosecuted under animal cruelty laws. There are many others.
Laws for guidance
What if there were some guidance laws in place which placed restrictions on what she would have been allowed to do? A law to limit the number of rescue cats perhaps and a regulation which stipulates that a cat rescuer needs to be registered. There are other potential conditions that could be obligatory before a person is allowed to register as a cat rescuer such as proving (s)he has a workable business plan and some start up funding. Most businesses are governed by extensive regulations.
These thoughts are, in fact, more likely to become a reality in order to put an end to cat rescuers who become hoarders. However, they won’t be successful in protecting cats unless something is also done to reduce the number of unwanted cats being created and that may also require legislation.
P.S. This article has been republished from 2014 with some slight amendments to include some fresh thoughts. Why? Because a lot of archived articles need to aired and brought to the front. That does not mean that this article deserves it. It means that previous articles should not become invisible.