NEWS AND OPINION: the online news media (KSAT) tell me that the outdoor cat population in San Antonio, Texas, USA is “exploding” because the free spay and neutering programs remain closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chapter 5 of the City of San Antonio Animal Care Code states that all outdoor cats must be spayed and neutered. The city allows freeroaming cats. That code is being breached, apparently, in large numbers.
The San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition president, Sherry Derdak, said that San Antonio has a large population of outdoor cats and that they do rescue and adoptions and help people with their vet bills. She also tells us that around mid-March a lot of the spay neuter clinics closed. Then the Animal Care Services Community Program closed down. They are a high volume spay and neutering clinic for outside cats. The service was free. They were spaying and neutering about 120 cats weekly through a TNR program.
That service remains closed. It has forced the volunteers who use the service to look elsewhere such as private clinics. Normally their spay and neutering bill is around $10,000 per month. It has risen to $29,000. Sherry says that they will be digging themselves out of a hole for months to come when and if things get back to normal.
I understand why restrictions have to be in place during the coronavirus pandemic in order to minimise the transmission of the disease. However, the world is six months into the pandemic. Systems are in place to minimise transmission. We have to manage living with coronavirus. I would have thought that it is possible to reopen the service with new procedures to comply with city regulations, if they exist, regarding how to behave to minimise transmission of the disease.
It is time to get back to normal activities while taking responsible steps to protect the public from the disease. I feel that it is possible to achieve this objective.
The Animal Care Services website of the City of San Antonio does not publish information as to why they remain unable to provide their spay and neutering service. I can’t see any Covid-19 information on the website.
The current situation will probably lead to more feral cats and problems regarding feral cats in the future. This state of affairs is storing up problems for the future. A lot of what has happened regarding the response to Covid-19 is creating future problems in many areas, primarily financial but also, as mentioned, with respect to freeroaming outdoor, unowned cats in San Antonio.