The cages are set out by Aberdeen’s Animal Control officer John Weaver. They are monitored by him as well. If a cat is caught in a cage, it is brought to the shelter, he says.
He says that if the cat in the trap is considered to be feral or wild the cat will stay in the trap for the duration of the 48 hour hold requirement as required by the city.
He then says things which concern me. He says:
“We try to keep handling to a minimum…. If there are signs of them being owned, then moved immediately out of a cage.”
Mr Weaver also says that feral cats will snarl and hiss whereas cats that are pets will meow and purr.
So Mr Weaver, the animal control officer at Aberdeen in South Dakota, differentiates between feral and domestic cats that are in a small cage, trapped and frightened by whether they hiss and snarl or meow and purr. Is that a good and sound method? Is it thorough enough? Does it take into account the circumstances under which the assessment is made?
Isn’t possible that a domestic cat which is used to being outside – an indoor outdoor cat which spends a fair bit of time outside but who is “owned” in the usual way – could and indeed might hiss or snarl at a stranger when trapped in a cage in a strange place?
If that is a reasonable possibility, and I believe that it definitely is, then it is also reasonable to conclude that on occasions Mr Weaver assesses a domestic cat as a feral cat.
According to data from the Aberdeen police Department, 243 cats and 195 dogs were impounded by the shelter in 2013. Of these, 223 cats and 29 dogs were euthanised.
Mr Weaver says that more cats are euthanised because most of the cats captured in these traps, which are taken to the shelter are feral. You will note that the number of cats killed at the shelter is much higher on a percentage basis than the number of dogs.
This slightly alarming statistic might raise a question in the minds of some people as to whether the simplistic procedure for assessing whether a cat is feral or domestic is sound enough because let’s not forget that, at the end of the day, that assessment dictates whether a cat is killed or remains alive.