The Norwich City Council in New York State is thinking about imposing a fine on residents who feed feral cats. The council received a complaint from residents about the cats and so they are taking steps to rectify the problem in their view. It is a perennial problem across the US.
The city’s mayor said that they don’t have the tax dollars to support TNR programs. As I understand it, the feeding of feral cats in Norwich is done as a part of TNR programs.
These are, therefore, volunteers who do it out of compassion for the cats. These cats shouldn’t be there and they were put there by people, ultimately.
The mayor, Christine Carnrike, said (and this is the usual reason) that feral cats are a public health and safety issue and the decision is not anti-cat but about health and safety. Are they really a health issue? The proposed local law would impose an initial fine of $50 on anyone who violates it. The fine would rise to $200 for a second offence and for a third offence the fine would be $200.
A local resident, Sarah Francis, a property owner, has a slightly different take on this, a more compassionate approach. She said:
“I’m not pleased with it at all. I think it’s very wrong to threaten people for acting in a compassionate manner towards animals. I think there’s much better ways to go about this.”
Of course, she is correct. Well, at least I think so. She represents the other side of the coin to the one which says that feral cats need to be eliminated. There are those that hate them and want to get rid of them and there are those who’s initial thoughts are to be compassionate and treat them humanely. They want to solve the problem of feral cats in a decent way. It’s an entirely different approach to the one presented by the city.
The city should find the dollars
The better solution would be to see if the city can find some tax dollars and work with volunteers to set up TNR programs around the city. When TNR is properly financed and supported by local authorities, it is seen to be effective. The residents who want to stop the feeding of feral cats would then realise that gradually the feral cat population would decrease. They would see that the city is addressing their complaint.
It would also please animal advocates and volunteers who want to do something to help the cats. It would be a compromise and I think it would be money well spent.
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