Friday, September 29, 2006

Pennsylvania House Resolution: National Feral Cat Day

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - House Resolution 830
A Resolution recognizing October 16, 2006, as "National Feral Cat Day."


Adopted, Sept. 27, 2006 (196-0)




No. 830 Session of 2006

AUGUST 16, 2006

AUGUST 16, 2006


1 Recognizing October 16, 2006, as "National Feral Cat Day."

2 WHEREAS, "National Feral Cat Day" is a day dedicated to
3 educating communities about feral cat population control,
4 including trap-neuter-return (TNR), the most humane and
5 effective means of reducing feral cat populations; and
6 WHEREAS, TNR stops the cycle of breeding, eliminates the
7 killing of healthy animals and greatly reduces complaints about
8 costs associated with feral cats; and
9 WHEREAS, Scientific evidence and experience in the United
10 States and other countries demonstrates that nonlethal TNR
11 accompanied by ongoing feral cat colony management is the only
12 lasting way to reduce feral cat population; and
13 WHEREAS, Caring individuals and groups are effectively

1 applying TNR to feral cat colonies in this Commonwealth; and
2 WHEREAS, The House of Representatives encourages nonlethal
3 TNR accompanied by ongoing feral cat management as the most
4 effective, humane method of reducing feral cat populations in
5 this Commonwealth; therefore be it
6 RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives recognize October
7 16, 2006, as "National Feral Cat Day" and call upon the people
8 of Pennsylvania to participate in the spaying and neutering of
9 feral and stray cats in their neighborhoods.

F13L82JLW/20060H0830R4521 - 2 -

PB Cats edges leader from job

PB Cats edges leader from job
After Beth Pouncey resigns, new board names interim replacement after considering cat activist Catherine Bradley for the post.
Palm Beach Daily News, FL - September 29, 2006
By WILLIAM KELLY, Daily News Staff Writer

Three years ago, the town pinned its hopes on Beth Pouncey to bring Palm Beach's controversial feral cat population under control through a new organization that became PB Cats.
Under Pouncey's leadership, the private, nonprofit organization fed, trapped and spayed or neutered hundreds of the animals, provided veterinary care, and placed some for adoption. Nuisance complaints were largely silenced.
At the time Pouncey entered the scene, Catherine Bradley, the town's most famous — or infamous — feral cat-care provider was practically an outcast at Town Hall, having received more than 40 citations for feeding the animals on private property and even being jailed in 2002 on a felony trespassing charge. Bradley agreed to stop feeding the cats after a judge threw the charge out of court.
Now, a newly formed PB Cats board of directors has forced Pouncey out of her $33,000 a year job as the organization's full-time field director and considered hiring Bradley as her successor before naming another cat-care provider as interim field director at a board meeting on Thursday.
Bradley, who is herself a member of the new PB Cats board that formed in August, had volunteered for Pouncey's job, board Chairman William Cooley said. But he said the board decided instead to hire Katharine McGovern, who has worked for PB Cats on an hourly basis as a cat trapper.
Bradley, who could not be reached to comment for this story, has been engaged in field work for PB Cats, caring for the animals as part of its trap-neuter-release program — an approach that she pioneered in Palm Beach with her own organization, Palm Beach Cat Rescue and Humane Society, before PB Cats was formed.
If she did receive any compensation for her work with PB Cats, Bradley's pay would come in part through funds supplied by town taxpayers. That is because PB Cats relies on more than $100,000 annually from the Town Council to cover most of its expenses, and it is sanctioned as the town's feral-cat management program.
That would be an ironic twist for Bradley, and a bitter pill for at least one Town Council member. Councilman Bill Brooks, upon learning earlier Thursday that Bradley was under consideration for Pouncey's old job, said that, if Bradley were hired, he would make a motion at the Oct. 10 council meeting that the council "rescind every penny of the taxpayers' dollars that has not already been spent" by PB Cats. Giving Bradley the job would be an "abomination" considering her disregard for the rights of private property owners, Brooks said. Bradley has denied feeding the cats on private property without an owner's permission.
In early August, when the council appropriated the money to PB Cats, with Council President Denis Coleman dissenting, there was no public mention of Bradley. However, a few weeks prior, Bradley had told the Palm Beach Daily News that changes were in store for PB Cats, that she would be joining the organization and that Beth Pouncey would be out.
Also in August, the seven-member board was formed under the leadership of Town Councilwoman Susan Markin to revamp the organization after it went broke amid reports of sloppy bookkeeping and inadequate fund-raising. Markin, who is on the new board, said Thursday that PB Cats could no longer justify Pouncey's salary and benefits.
Pouncey, who was not at the board meeting, confirmed on Thursday that she resigned effective this Saturday, but wouldn't say why, except that it was obvious to her that it was time to make way for new leadership.
"She was acting as field director, executive director and feeder," Markin said. "Now, we have a very engaged board, where some of the directors are doing some of the things Beth may have been doing before. So to pay her that kind of salary isn't necessary, nor can we afford it."
The board offered to let Pouncey stay on as a feeder, at $12 an hour, but she declined, Markin said. PB Cats has two part-time feeders in addition to the field director's position. It has no executive director or administrator, and Markin has said the new board would create an executive director's post to concentrate on administration and fundraising while the field director focused on cat care. But Markin said Thursday the board may decide to handle the administrative and fundraising duties itself.
Markin said the new board has learned that, under the old board, PB Cats leased a new car for Pouncey to drive at a cost of $300 a month, plus $150 a month for insurance, and paid for her gasoline.
"They leased a car in the late spring, when their financial situation was not very good," Markin said. "The funds were not really there to substantiate that lease."
Moreover, Markin said, the leased vehicle is a small compact car not suitable for transportation of cats. Pouncey has asked to take over the lease and keep the car, and PB Cats is now using a donated van for transportation, Markin said.
All but one of the old board members resigned to clear the way for the new board after the council made it clear it wanted the organization's management revamped if it was to continue to receive town aid. One member, Carolyn Ross, stayed on from the old board.
During the council debate, Markin lobbied strongly for more town funding and volunteered to serve on a new cat board and recruit other board members. Three of the new board members — Cooley, Jeff Cloninger and Cathleen McFarlane Ross — were financial supporters of Markin's campaign to unseat Norman Goldblum in the Feb. 7 election for a council seat.
The other new board members are Vicky Hunt and Maryanne Albergon.
Markin said before Thursday's meeting that she believes Bradley was "absolutely" qualified to be field director of PB Cats. She had been talking to Bradley in the spring about bringing her into the organization, Markin said Thursday.
"She was being persecuted for feeding feral cats when there was no cat program in Palm Beach," Markin said. "They [the town] adopted a program to feed the cats ... I don't know if the trespassing was ever proven."
What ultimately matters, Markin said, is that PB Cats is back on its feet, stronger than ever, in January when it will be accountable to the council before it can receive another $50,000 in town funds.
"The council will find the organization is better than it's ever been," she said. "Our records are going to be impeccable. There will be more financial accountability than they have ever seen. The board members will be more engaged than they've ever seen."
Councilman Allen Wyett said he doesn't mind Bradley's involvement.
"I am willing to give her a second chance," he said. "If she does a good job keeping the cats under control, everyone will be happy. She is certainly more knowledgeable about cats than anyone else around."

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previous Feral Cat Blog! posts about cats in Palm Beach

Kitty bitter: Woman fined $525 for off-leash cats
21 Sep 2006 by ~Barb

Palm Beach cat group purrs anew
1 Sep 2006

PB Cats: Criticism by town unmerited
16 Jul 2006

$30K for Palm Beach feral cats, vet
14 Jul 2006

What to do with cats in Elgin?

What to do with cats, cats, cats in Elgin?
Chicago Daily Herald (subscription), Ilinois - September 29, 2006

Marie Piraino has lost income and Phyllis Berstein almost lost her marriage over the feral cats living in their Elgin neighborhoods.

And now they want the city to do something about it.

Both women were relieved Wednesday to hear City Councilman Juan Figueroa say feral cats are living under his front porch and wants city staffers to draft a cat ordinance.

Elgin Mayor Ed Schock said he would support a new law only if the city was capable of enforcing it. Right now, the city has only a part-time animal control officer.

But Piraino and Berstein differ on how they think the city should deal with the wild, roaming felines.

Phyllis Berstein said more than eight feral cats come around to eat at her Elgin home near Lords Park. She wants city officials to look into ways to control the feral cat population problem. "These animals have very short lives," she said. "And they bring me to tears."

Piraino wants the city to limit the number of cats a person can have as well as remove and euthanize the ones creeping in and out of her garage and her tenants' apartments near Ann and Center streets. She wants people who feed cats fined, too.

"I've had people tell me they won't rent there because the cats were crawling all over the front porch," she said.

Berstein would rather see the city try a Trap Neuter Release, or TNR program, similar to the one McHenry County officials and Anderson Animal Shelter already have.

Right now, Elgin does not have an ordinance limiting the number of cats a person can own. Kane County ordinances deem it illegal for a person to feed feral cats.

City officials are researching why the city does not enforce the Kane County rules, said Sue Olafson, city spokeswoman.

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Cat solution is smart, humane
Joliet Herald News, Illinois - September 29, 2006

OK, all you cat haters out there may think this is a bit silly. Eighteen inches or so of prime newspaper space dedicated to the story of four calico kittens.
Sisters and best friends, they are cute little things that have been orphaned since they were barely able to stand up.

Pizazz, Cali, Pearl and Dusty are not all that different from lots of other adorable cats out there -- except they are strays.

And their story is important because it speaks to the problem of feral cats in our community -- estimated to be in the thousands in this area alone and close to 10 million in the country.

These little gals were born in the wild -- or, more accurately, under a backyard shed on Aurora's West Side. A landscaper discovered the momma and her newborns and notified the homeowners who tried to coax the feline family to come out so the grass could be fertilized.
But that only made the mother take her cats to another area, and eventually she either died or abandoned the babies.

When Cynthia and John Bercaw found the kittens, they were crawling around aimlessly, their eyes barely open, struggling to survive.

Even someone who is not too crazy about cats would have to possess a heart of stone to turn their backs on such vulnerable creatures.

Certainly the Bercaws, whose house cat, Scooter Pie, was once a stray, were not about to let the orphans die. So they bought milk and eye droppers and kitty food and built an outdoor shelter and nursed the kittens to independence.

And now, five months later, they are so independent they could never be put up for adoption.

And it won't be long before they'll be able to reproduce. Which is why the Bercaws are concerned.

According to the Humane Society, a cat can have three litters a year, with between four and six kittens in each litter.

Do the math: The number of babies these cats and their offspring could produce in a lifetime can add up to well more than 400,000 births. Which is why stray cats have become such a problem in this area and many other communities across the country.

While the Bercaws may have named the four calicos, they have no intention of turning them into pets. But they would like to see these kittens have a decent life -- without being responsible for another couple thousand strays running around.

And in order to do that, they want to neuter Pizazz, Cali, Pearl and Dusty, and then return them to the neighborhood, where they will be fed and monitored by the Bercaws.

In essence, they are talking about the trap/neuter/release program (TNR), which most animal-welfare groups advocate as the morally acceptable alternative to killing healthy animals.

The idea behind this method is that, if you just round up the cats and euthanize them, new unfixed cats quickly move into the territory and the feral cycle only continues.

TNR, however, not only leads to healthier strays, the cat colonies will die out naturally.

Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin, which has its own veterinary clinic on site, has been using TNR for the past five years. According to Director Sarah Hill, this program has been well received: Close to 600 ferals cats a year are neutered there.

For a $56 fee, a stray cat will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated for rabies and distemper, and be given a test for the FIV (feline AIDS) virus. The shelter is so committed to this program that it will even loan out the traps.

On Oct. 16, which is National Feral Cat Day, Anderson is offering free surgeries for strays. Call (847) 697-2881 for more information.

Aurora Animal Control does not use TNR. Director Linda Nass says that, while she sees the benefits to such a program, in addition to the funding that would be needed to launch it, this method works better in less populated areas, where feral cat colonies have more room to roam.

But experts believe if TNR is done on a large enough scale -- which means the funding must be there, as well as a strong commitment from the community -- entire outdoor populations in towns big and small can stabilize over time.

And that makes a lot of sense to cat lovers like the Bercaws, who are willing to spend more than $200 on four little orphans.

"We're touched by people like them," says Hall, "who are willing to do so much for animals that aren't even theirs."

Denise Crosby is the managing editor of The Beacon News in Aurora.

cat sanctuary: high springs florida

One family. 300 cats. Want one?
High Springs Heralds, Florida - September 29, 2006

Steve Lefkowitz sits surrounded by some of the 300 cats he and his wife have taken in at their Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary. The High Springs couple learned that although many shelters offer pets for adoption, only a lucky few of those animals ever find a family to go home with. The rest are usually put to sleep. The Lefkowitzs decided to start a foster home for cats by opening a sanctuary as a new home for them until they can find a family.

From 40 Cats to Hundreds
Although the Lefkowitzs don’t advertise and only spread the word about their organization by word-of mouth, they said, the number of cats at the sanctuary soon began to grow.
Some cats they would take in from other shelters where the animals may have been euthanized. Other cats were brought to the sanctuary by owners who could no longer care for the animals. Sometimes, wild cats that were found living close to busy highways or other dangerous areas would be brought in so they wouldn’t end up dead.

The Lefkowitzs began to awake to cats that were dropped off at their home at night by people who apparently wanted to remain anonymous.

The Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary can be reached at 386-454-0383.

Woman With 184 Dead Cats Admits Neglect

Woman With 184 Dead Cats Admits Neglect
FOX News - Sep 27, 2006
Associated Press


FREDERICK, Maryland — A woman who was found living with more than 300 mostly dead cats pleaded guilty to 46 misdemeanor counts of neglect Tuesday, abruptly ending her trial on animal cruelty charges.

Patricia K. Nicholson, 51, of rural Mount Airy, entered the Alford plea after a lunch break following about 2 1/2 hours of testimony in Frederick County District Court. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to produce a guilty verdict.

Judge O. John Cejka, who presided at the bench trial, set sentencing for Nov. 29. Nicholson faces a maximum penalty of 11 years and four months behind bars plus a $46,000 fine, but Assistant State's Attorney Kirsten Brown said the state wouldn't object to a suspended jail sentence and three years of supervised probation, provided Nicholson gets psychiatric treatment and doesn't acquire or care for more animals.

Nicholson was found living in a house with 184 dead cats and 119 live ones, of which 46 had to be euthanized, according to court records and trial testimony. In return for her guilty plea to failing to provide adequate food, shelter and air to the 46 cats that were put down, prosecutors dropped 76 other counts of that offense and 122 misdemeanor counts of inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering.

"Someone who loves animals is supposed to take care of them, and she completely disregarded that," Brown said in her opening statement.

Defense attorney Raymond Carignan said Nicholson was a single woman who tried to rescue feral cats.

"She did the best she could to take care of these animals," Carignan said in his opening statement. But, Carignan said, "she tried to take care of more cats than she could."

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Feral Cat Blog! Resource:
Hoarding of Animals Consortium (HARC) - Tufts University

council defeats cat control bylaw

Animal control issue sees claws come out in North Saanich
Saanich News, Canada - Sep 27, 2006
By Christine van Reeuwyk, Peninsula News Review

Council's a little catty these days in North Saanich. The group of seven opted not to agree with staff recommendations regarding animal control during the Sept. 11 council meeting.

The recommended amendments to the Animal Control and Municipal Ticket bylaws included; that all cats six months of age and older must be spayed or neutered unless the owner is a licensed breeder; all cats six months of age or older must bear identification such as collar and tag, traceable tattoo or microchip; progressive impoundment fees for dangerous dogs; progressive impoundment fees for cats; inclusion of $50 fines for unspayed or unneutered cats, owning more than three cats without a breeders licence and owning an unidentified cat.

The claws came out as council articulated on unidentified cats - the main point of discussion.

"I just think it's weird - North Saanich is a rural community," said Coun. Anny Scoones. "We don't have cats out there wailing in the alley all night - well they are at Sandown actually."

She noted that it probably offered the Capital Regional District more teeth in coming into the community to apprehend a "bad cat".

"I couldn't care if we pass it or not quite frankly," added Mayor Ted Daly.

"If the CRD comes by and some cat is sunning on the roof is the bylaw officer going to fine me?" asked one resident during public input. She wondered how the CRD would know who to fine if the cat was unidentified, and if they would fine her for a wandering feral cat that was on her property.

The motion to approve the staff recommendations was defeated.

The recommendations came from a resolution in April that District staff, in consultation with the chief bylaw officer of the CRD prepare the necessary amendments to the Animal Control Bylaw to include the mandatory identification of cats.

curbing feral cat population non-lethally


Pet Panel to Focus Effort on Curbing Feral Cat Population
Southern Pines Pilot, North Carolina - September 28, 2006

The movement to curb the county's pet overpopulation will also direct efforts toward spaying and neutering feral cats with a target date in January.
This effort is in addition to an ongoing program encouraging pet owners to have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered at reduced-price clinics to be held monthly, with the initial emphasis on the Robbins area.

At a meeting of the Moore County Citizens' Pet Responsi-bility Committee Wednesday night, plans began to take shape for the first clinic in Robbins, for the feral cat project in January and for an education emphasis in the public schools.

Animals handled at these special clinics will also receive rabies shots.
Al Carter, Animal Control director for the Moore County Health Department and a committee member, said that the county is scheduling another round of rabies clinics in coming weeks.

Carter said rabies remains a serious concern here and that health officials and committee members cannot over-emphasize the importance of having pets vaccinated against the deadly disease.

"People don't realize the ramifications until it's too late. It is a truly heart-wrenching situation when we have to put down family pets because of rabies," Carter said.

State law requires rabies vaccinations for all dogs and cats. If a pet has not been vaccinated and is attacked by a rabid wild animal, then state law also requires that the pet be quarantined for six months or "put down." Carter said many dog and cat owners cannot afford to pay to board their pets for six months, something that can cost more than a thousand dollars. The only alternative is to have the animal euthanized.

That is something Carter and his staff dread, especially when the animal is a child's pet and they see that child weeping in sorrow.

Carter said that eight dogs have been "put down" this year because the owners could not afford the six months' boarding costs. He reported that five people are presently taking rabies shots because they had been bitten by rabid animals.

Rabies is fatal to humans and other animals. However, shots can be administered to humans who have been bitten and possibly infected by domestic or wild animals with rabies. Carter said the rabies virus migrates through the nervous system to the brain and from there to the salivary gland where it can be transmitted to a bitten victim.

Rounding Up Feral Cats

Maureen Burke-Horansky of Animal Advocates of Moore County, a committee member, gave an update on the campaign to round up feral cats and have them spayed or neutered.

This will be a massive effort because these are not pets that can be easily picked up and delivered to a clinic for this procedure. Most are cats that have been abandoned or have strayed from home, then become feral while fending for themselves in the wild. They often wander up to homes where kindly residents may feed them although the cats never become pets.

Burke-Horansky said the feral cat traps are available and she is in the process of contacting people who feed these cats to make arrangements for their capture. The plan calls for setting the traps near their feeding stations.

Once the cats are trapped, they must be transported to a secure place for safekeeping until the veterinary team is available to carry out the procedures. Male cats can be returned to their old haunts shortly thereafter, but the procedure for female cats is more invasive and requires a short period of recuperation before they are returned to the wild.

Committee members suggested that an unused chicken house would be an ideal place to keep the cats until the procedure has been completed.

They also discussed other needs, including food and lots of paper for hygiene purposes. Burke-Horansky said she will need a number of volunteers for the project.

Because the feral cats are not pets and therefore do not have owners, there is no one to charge for this service. This cost will be covered by allocated and donated funds.

Residents who feed feral cats have told committee members that they do not want them euthanized but would like to make sure they are not free to continue contributing to the overpopulation of unwanted cats.

The January clinic is to be the first in a series of such clinics. She expects to start with 30 cats. Other clinics may be held in February and March and perhaps a big one in April when the committee stages a Pet Responsibility Day observance.

Pet Responsibility Program

Beverly Lashley, who chairs the education focus group, said she is writing a program to encourage pet responsibility in kindergarten through sixth grade. She said the program will be worked into the science and English language aspects of the curriculum. Once this is developed, she will work on an approach for the high schools and for Spanish language students.

Committee Chair Angela Zumwalt reported that the Moore County Board of Commissioners has agreed to allocate funds to supplement donated funds to support the reduced-price spay/ neuter program.

Pet owners will be asked to pay part of the cost of the procedure, with the remaining cost picked up by the county appropriation and contributions.

Zumwalt said that the committee will make several presentations in the Robbins area in October, including the Woodmen of the World and the Order of the Eastern Star on Oct. 2, and Northern Moore Tomorrow on Oct. 10.

Other appearances include a group of Hispanic parents and the Robbins Town Board.

Carter also reported that his staff at the animal shelter remains two people short, but he is interviewing applicants for those positions.

The committee meeting was held at the Pinehurst Village Hall. Committee meetings are held at various locations about the county on the final Wednesday of each month.

Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yokosuka cat lovers adopting animals with FIV

Yokosuka cat lovers stepping up, adopting animals with FIV
Japan leads world in rate of feline equivalent to HIV
Stars and Stripes, D.C. September 28, 2006
By Allison Batdorff, Stars and Stripes

Allison Batdorff / S&S
Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Haynes, above, and his wife, Alison, are adopting Maru, a cat diagnosed with FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV. The disease, which can be transmitted only to other cats, afflicts one of every four felines in Japan.

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Around Yokosuka’s shelter they’re affectionately called the “AIDS kitties.”
Two cats with the feline equivalent of HIV, called FIV for feline immunodeficiency virus, recently found their way to Pets Are Worth Saving shelter at Yokosuka Naval Base.
Maru is one of them. The fat lap cat now lives with Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Haynes and his wife, Alison, at Yokosuka Naval Base. They are adopting the male tom and don’t mind his species-specific disease. The other cat, Maggie, was adopted by a Japanese resident.
“This guy is so sweet — you could trust him with an infant,” Haynes said Monday of Maru, named in Japanese for the “circle” on his fur. “We were really glad to bring him home. We know a lot of people would have trouble accepting his condition.”
Like their human counterparts, FIV-positive cats can be the victims of misinformation, said PAWS President Dawn Zeumalt. Other than being more susceptible to diseases, the FIV cats’ lives — all nine of them — can be quite “normal,” she said.
“AIDS kitties aren’t that different from other cats,” Zeumalt said. “They can have good quality of life.”
Granted, while in shelter they are quarantined from other felines — as FIV can be transmitted from cat to cat, usually through biting (saliva) and scratching.
Most transmissions occur in catfights, which is why FIV occurs in males twice as often than in females. Mother cats also can transfer the disease to their kittens during pregnancy or through their milk.
Japan leads the world in FIV — it’s estimated to afflict between 10 percent and 30 percent of domestic cats and as high as 44 percent among its large population of free-roaming feral cats. But since the disease’s discovery in 1986, every country that has tested the cat population for it has found it.
The disease works likes the human version and slowly breaks down the cat’s immune system over time. The similarities mean that certain drugs used for humans, such as AZT, can be used for cats, according to FIV also is studied in relation to human HIV, along with similar viruses found in dogs and monkeys.
However, Maru’s diagnosis does have consequences: No more tomcatting around. The previously feral cat must stay indoors to prevent the spread of FIV.
Haynes said he thinks the cat is cozying up to the idea.
“Maru likes to be warm — he just finds the warm spots and sleeps for hours and hours,” he said. “And he likes getting fed three times a day.”
Maru will also have to go through a quarantine process when they take him back to the United States, though it won’t be any more stringent than other cats coming from Japan, Haynes said.
Maru’s disease also means the Hayneses won’t be getting any other cats, unless they are FIV-positive. This wouldn’t be too terrible, Haynes said.
“Maru is the best cat in the world,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind another one just like him.”

Monday, September 25, 2006

Documenting the Effects of TNR: Maddies U FLorida

Maddie's Outdoor Cat Program, University of Florida
Documenting the Effects of TNR
Despite two decades of growth of trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, no data exists to document the effect of TNR on shelter admissions. Julie Levy and a team of researchers from the University of Florida are setting out to assess feral cat sterilization projects as a method for reducing the homeless cat population and the resulting burden on animal control facilities, and Alachua County, Florida will be their testing ground.

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downloadable pdf file The Veterinary Page - August 2006
News from the University of Florida - School of Veterinary Medicine

UF veterinarians target cats from specific area in county to reduce shelter admissions

University of Florida veterinarians hope to reduce the unusually high number of cats admitted to the Alachua County animal shelter from a specific local area through a new project funded by a group that supports increased sterilization of pets.

Maddie’s Fund recently awarded a two-year grant to Drs. Julie Levy and Natalie Isaza, both faculty members at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and to Alachua County Animal Control director Ray Sim to study the effect of an intensive Trap-Neuter-Return program on cats at the county shelter from an area known to have a disproportionately high rate of shelter admissions. Based in California, Maddie’s Fund supports programs across the country that encourage sterilization of pets. This particular study is the first to look at high intensity sterilization of outdoor cats in a very limited geographical area.

Impact of Hysterectomy in an Urban Colony of Domestic Cats RIOZOO Brazil

The International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine
The Impact of Hysterectomy in an Urban Colony of Domestic Cats (Felis catus Linnaeus, 1758)
Flavya Mendes-de-Almeida, DVM, DSc, Maria Carolina Ferreira Faria, DVM, MSc, Gabriella Landau-Remy, Dipl Biol, Aline Serricella Branco, DVM, Paulo Barata, BM, PhD, Marcia Chame, Dipl Biol, MSc, Maria Júlia Salim Pereira, DVM, DSc, Norma Labarthe, DVM, DSc
Intern J Appl Res Vet Med • Vol. 4, No. 2, 2006

downloadable pdf file

The easiness with which urban cats form colonies and the exponential growth of these populations are a challenge for all known population control methods. The zoological garden of Rio de Janeiro (RIOZOO) has been dealing unsuccessfully with the issue of stray cat populations for more than 10 years. For this reason, it was decided to investigate the structure and composition of the colony of cats populating the RIOZOO and to observe, during 36 months, the impact of hysterectomy of adults, with conservation of the gonads, as a means of population control. Hysterectomy was meant to be performed biennially, though at the beginning of the program, it was performed yearly for 2 consecutive years. The total size of the colony was estimated each year using the capture-mark-recapture technique. During the study's entirety, a total of 96 cats, 80 adults and 16 kittens, were caught. The yearly population estimate of cats showed that between the years 2001 and 2004, the population stopped to grow, strongly tending to decrease.
The conservation of the gonads of all animals adding to the fact that no individuals were removed preserved the natural social behavior of the cats living in the colony. Thus, after 2 consecutive years of submitting captured adult females to hysterectomy, planned biennial interventions constitute an animal welfarefriendly, effective model for controlling the urban population of cats that can be proposed to public health authorities as an alternative to the traditional capture and culling in Brazil.

[Excerpt which is last paragraph of Discussion section and the article]
Thus, after 2 consecutive years of performing hysterectomy in adult females, we conclude that programmed biennial interventions submitting all adult females to hysterectomy constituted an efficient measure for controlling the urban colony of free-roaming cats in the RIOZOO. Possibly, this model can be employed in other open or closed facilities, provided that the noise produced by the cats during mating and competition for females in estrus is not a limiting factor.

predator-prey interactions research NZ

2006 Research Medal winners announced
Massey News, New Zealand - September 25, 2006
These fellowships recognise researchers with established records, allowing them to employ a young postdoctoral student for two years to carry out research on their behalf or to conduct the research themselves, with an additional $15,000 available for research expenses.
Dr Isabel Castro from the Institute of Natural Resources (Ecology) for her project, Predator-prey Interactions in New Zealand, which aims to study the ecology of predators and their prey in order to develop better management of introduced mammalian pest populations.

The traditional response to predation has been to been to kill the predators. This has backfired on many occasions because of the consequent ecological responses by other predators and prey. For example, eradicating feral cats may cause an increase in other pest populations such as rats, which are preyed on by cats.

The project will establish baseline data about the numerical and functional relationships between vertebrate predators and prey in a defined New Zealand ecosystem. This will enable future experiments leading to more effective pest management.

The two-year project will study feral cats, ship rats, kiwi, ruru (morepork) and other forest bird species on a Hauraki Gulf island.

Florida AC feral cat policy addition

3rd Quarter 2006
Official Quarterly Publication of the FLORIDA ANIMAL CONTROL ASSOCIATION
Bill Armstrong
Hillsborough County Animal Services
In addition to undertaking the massive task of surveying our members on such a wide variety of topics, [see below] your Board also figured it ws time to take a hard look at FACA’s policy statements. Most of you are familiar with the FACA Policy Statements booklet that’s included with every Law Book that we distribute. We take very seriously our role as advisor and standard-setter for our Florida agencies, and spent considerable time reviewing and editing the 2006 version that is now at the printer. I’d like to draw your attention to some of the changes.

We added this to our Feral Cat policy:
FACA discourages the outdoor feeding of all free-roaming cats because of the significant threat of attracting high risk rabies species, such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes, etc.

Here is the existing policy:

Feral Cats
FACA supports the Rabies Advisory Committee Position Statement in the State of Florida Rabies Prevention and Control in Florida, 2003: Managing Feral/Unowned/Stray Cats (updated 3/01)

The concept of managing free-roaming/feral cats is not tenable on public health grounds because of the persistent threat posed to communities from injury and disease. While the risk for disease transmission from cats to people is generally low when these animals are owned and routinely cared for, free-roaming cats pose a continuous concern to a community. Children are among the highest risk for disease transmission from these cats.
While free-roaming cats can be vaccinated against rabies, this does not address the ongoing need to provide them health care, medications and prevention of other zoonotic diseases. Should one of these cats bite or scratch a person, it would need to be captured and observed for 10 days for signs and symptoms of rabies, even if it had been previously vaccinated. If the cat is not found, the person bitten would need to undergo rabies post-exposure treatment. In the past 10-years, cats were reported with rabies more frequently than dogs in Florida. The overwhelming majority of these cats were free-roaming animals. Human rabies in Florida was largely controlled by the removal of stray dogs when dog rabies was common during the first half of the 1900s.

Ideally, cats should have regular veterinary care and be maintained inside people's homes. Allowing unowned cats to roam free is not in the best interests of the community's health and deliberate release or abandonment of feral or domestic cats is not sanctioned under Florida's conservation and cruelty laws. Based upon Florida Statutes, Chapter Chapter 372.265, cats are not "indigenous" or native to Florida, and due to their adverse impact on wildlife, no permits have been or will be issued by the FWCC to make lawful either the release of feral/free-ranging cats or the establishment of feral/free-ranging cat colonies. Relocating and releasing non-native species into the wild is a violation of Florida Statute Chapter 372.265 and Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.005." , cats are not "indigenous" or native to Florida, and due to their adverse impact on wildlife, no permits have been or will be issued by the to make lawful either the release of feral/free-ranging cats or the establishment of feral/free-ranging cat colonies."
Last Revised April 2004

In your last TRAX you saw the 2006 Super Survey, gathering up relevant information that all of us can use in future budget discussions, staff meetings, ordinance drafting sessions. We will compile our results in time for the November Educational conference ...

[from website]
Florida Animal Control Association
Comprehensive Profile of Florida’s Animal Control Agencies

..... We know that the compilation of this data will be invaluable to your agency and others around the state. Watch for analyses and statistics in future issues of FACA TRAX and on FULL INFORMATION will be available only to survey participants. ...


FERAL CATS policy: Allow trap/neuter/release ____Yes ____No
Ordinance prohibiting TNR ____Yes ____No
Support and/or fund TNR ____Yes ____No

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fredericksburg SPCA feral cat assistance

SPCA can assist public with feral cats
The Free Lance-Star, Virginia - September 24, 2006
Letter to the Editor:

Thanks for the excellent coverage of the SPCA Eighth Annual Walk and other recent animal issues.

I'm also responding to Stephanie Shelton's recent letter ["SPCA should handle ferals, not us residents," Sept. 7].

The Greater Fredericksburg Area SPCA is a private nonprofit facility. We are currently finalizing a new program to assist the public with feral cats.

We do not accept feral cats at our shelter but endorse trap-neuter-return as the most humane and effective way of managing them.

We loan humane traps for TNR and also assist with trapping and transportation when needed. Please note that in Virginia there is no "leash law" for cats, and they are free roaming.

For domesticated cats and for adoptable dogs, the SPCA works from a waiting list, calling owners as available space opens; we do not euthanize a current animal to bring in the next one.

Sadly, until all pet owners become committed to spaying or neutering their animals and providing them with lifelong care, there will continue to be homeless animals.

The result of owner irresponsibility is that 118,034 animals were euthanized in Virginia in 2005.

As with all shelters in this area, the SPCA is working with a very limited amount of resources and volunteers.

We encourage Ms. Shelton and other concerned people to volunteer or donate funds to help remedy some of these problems.

Debra Joseph

Debra Joseph is executive director of the Greater Fredericksburg Area SPCA.

cats IN news today!

For new readers, a number of weeks ago I placed the links for daily news permanently on the right of the home page:

cats IN news today!

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Cat Management in Communities

A prevention AND solution action for cities, counties, communities is to immediately implement or support comprehensive cat management programs that CONCURRENTLY promote:

* spay neuter, identification, and containment for 'owned' cats and

* Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage (TNRM) for unowned cats.

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Neuter / Spay Assistance and Information ~ Oregon, Washington, Nationwide

Saturday, September 23, 2006

feral cat laws discussion

September 2006: new topic on
(The Michigan Animal Legal and Historical Center):

Feral Cats by Anthony E. LaCroix


Brief Biological Overview of the Domestic Cat
(also referred to as Biological Summary of the Domestic Cat)

Quick Overview of Feral Cat Population Control
(also referred to as Brief Summary of Feral Cats)

Overview of Feral Cat Population Control
(also referred to as Overview of Feral Cat Issues)

Detailed Discussion of Feral Cat Population Control
(also referred to as Detailed Discussion of Feral Cats)

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Feral Cat Blog! Note: A Cats Law section was added to in June 2005 after I wrote Professor Favre about the lack of information and clarity regarding the legal status of domestic cats and feral cats! See
that Feral Cat Blog! post.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Can We Legislate No Kill?

From the No-Kill Advocacy Center: (

Subject: Can We Legislate No Kill?
Date: 9/22/2006 10:13:44 A.M. Pacific Standard Time

Can We Legislate No Kill?

Legislation is often thought of as a quick solution to high rates of shelter killing. “If only we had a law,” the argument goes, “all the bad, irresponsible people out there would take care of their pets properly, and shelters wouldn’t have to kill so many animals.”

But if this were true, given the proliferation of these laws, shouldn’t there be many No Kill communities by now? In fact, experience has proven that legislation is far from a cure-all. In reality, it often has the opposite effect. The communities that have passed these laws are far from No Kill.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

In the late 1970s, national animal welfare agencies, public health departments, and veterinarian associations held a series of national symposiums and came up with a national model for addressing what they called “the surplus pet population.” A copy of their findings and recommendations was sent to 7,000 agencies nationwide, virtually every shelter in the United States.

Adopting the viewpoint that the public’s failure to spay/neuter or confine their pets was to blame for the high rates of shelter killing, they focused on efforts to force the public to become “responsible pet owners.” As a result, they recommended a series of legislative initiatives—most of which were promoted and passed in localities nationwide. Among the many laws favored, the most common were those that: required dogs and cats to be confined in homes, required dogs and to a lesser extent cats to be licensed with local authorities; limited the number of animals a family could care for; prohibited the feeding of stray cats; and, provided expanded authority for animal control officers to seize and destroy pets they deemed a “nuisance.” The theory behind all these laws was to severely curtail not only the public’s “bad” behavior, but also the bad behavior of the animals.

Unfortunately, the laws had many unintended consequences. Since the legislation was premised on the assumption that the public was “bad” and had to be “punished” and “coerced” into doing the right thing, it ignored the obvious—even if its proponents were right, the law would nonetheless miss its intended target since responsible people acted responsibly whether there was a law or not, while truly irresponsible people would merely ignore the laws.

More importantly, these laws were interpreted to mean that anyone who fed a stray animal—or left food out for a hungry cat—was considered the animal’s owner. In towns and communities throughout the United States, well-meaning, compassionate people found themselves threatened by animal control authorities for feeding the stray cat who wandered into their backyard in search of food. As an “owner” under these ordinances, they were violating the law for “allowing” the cat outside, a curious twist of facts since these people were not allowing anything, other than allowing the animal to have occasional food. In the end, however, since failure to comply often resulted in the pet’s impoundment and killing, the net effect of the legislation was to exacerbate shelter killing.

In fact, many jurisdictions have seen their impound and death rates increase following passage of such laws which give agencies carte blanche to round up and kill outdoor animals. If a shelter has high rates of shelter killing, it makes no sense to support the passing of laws which give them greater power, and more reasons, to impound—and subsequently kill—even more animals.

The laws also limited the number of animals a family could own to often small numbers, three or four in most cases. One of the effects of this, however, was also to limit the number of animals a responsible family could help and thus prevented adoptions—and discouraged the most compassionate people in the community from coming forward to help the shelter with adoptions, donations, and volunteer support.

Finally, in order to increase the number of animals sterilized—the one thing that would have had dramatic results—national shelter agencies predictably encouraged the passing of even more laws, this time to force pet owners to spay/neuter at their own expense. Many localities took up the banner, passing laws that required pet owners to spay or neuter their dogs and cats on threats of fines, increased licensing costs, and the impoundment and killing of the pet.

Despite studies showing that simply providing a low-cost alternative doubled the number of poor people who spayed or neutered their pets, and that the wealthiest communities voluntarily spayed/neutered their pets at four times the rate of their poor counterparts, localities failed to provide meaningful solutions to obstacles that prevented people from acting the way shelters wanted them to. While laws were passed to force people to spay or neuter their pets, little was done about the high cost of the surgeries charged by many private veterinarians that kept poor people from complying. Even in the poorest communities where the federal government was subsidizing the cost of home heating oil to prevent families from freezing during the winter, in order to appease veterinarians who continued to oppose perceived threats to their profits, no effort was made to provide an alternative to a costly $150 dog spay.

Three Strikes and You’re Out
When Fort Wayne, Indiana; San Mateo, California; and King County, Washington passed their animal control legislation, the laws were hailed as a “national model.” They remain a dismal failure. Historically, Ft. Wayne’s aggressive enforcement of cat licensing has yielded only single digit compliance and a steadily increasing death rate for several years following mandatory cat licensing. In 2005, over two decades later, animal control still killed 76% of all impounded dogs and cats—over three out of four dogs and cats lost their life. The unincorporated county of San Mateo adopted its mandatory licensing programs in the first quarter of 1992 and noted a higher level of killing than the prior four years. The number of cats killed for the unincorporated county of San Mateo increased by 54% following the implementing of cat licensing and 60% in year two. This represented the first increase in cats being impounded and killed in San Mateo County. Not surprisingly, in the City of San Mateo, where the law had not been implemented, the number of cats handled and killed followed their predictable downward trend of 14% fewer cats handled and 14% fewer killed. Following this period, the shelter claimed a decrease in the kill rate for cats of some 24% just one year later, citing the licensing law as the reason. But this obscures the fact that it still represents a 42% increase from the year preceding cat licensing. In fact, adjusting for the fact that cat licensing did not go into effect until the end of the first quarter of 1992, the actual decline was closer to about 5%, significantly lower than the 24% claimed, and low compared to the decline of 29% experienced in the City of San Mateo without cat licensing. But perhaps no legislation has been more heralded, more promoted as a national model than the one passed in King County, Washington. Animal control in that community claims that because of the ordinance, they are now saving the vast majority of “adoptable” animals. But is this true? In fact, it is not.

First of all, despite being billed as a lost pet’s ticket home, redemption rates have either remained flat or declined since King County’s ordinance went into effect. By real numbers, there is a decline in redemptions, so the claim made about cat licensing increasing reclamation rates is not borne out by the data. If anything, most of these are dogs and even with doubling of dog licensing, redemptions are still down. In the end, reclaim rates are consistent with other jurisdictions where these laws are not in place. In some cases, King County’s are even lower. And despite its mandatory nature, there is no evidence that King County has higher rates of spay/neuter than jurisdictions who have made spay/neuter affordable, without diverting animal care dollars to bureaucratic enforcement.

But what of the claim that because of the ordinance, shelter killing rates are declining? For the three years prior to implementation of their ordinance, the county experienced declines in cat killing of 13%, 9% and 15%, so the trend was definitely in that direction, and these declines are more significant than the declines for the six years following enforcement of the law. In fact, the law may have limited the actual decline—or, in other words, led to a higher rate of killing than would have otherwise occurred.

And while killing rates have significantly declined more recently, the reasons why are not hard to figure out. King County, WA went from killing all feral cats to working with feral cat TNR groups, began sterilizing all animals before adoption rather than sending them out unspayed, began adopting out Pit Bulls rather than having a policy of 100% killing, began treating cats and kittens with respiratory infections rather than killing them, started a foster care program, and began working with rescue groups.

Not surprisingly, declines in impounds and killing perfectly track changes in programs—making Pit Bulls available for adoption, treating illnesses, working with TNR groups, and more progressive policies in adoptions. In short, King County began implementing the non-punitive, non-legislative programs and services of the No Kill equation. This is the real reason for the decline in death rates, and it has nothing to do with its failed legislation.

And no better proof for this proposition exists than Long Beach, California, which has had a breeding ban for over thirty years. If legislation is the answer, Long Beach should be a No Kill community by now. But, in fact, it is far from it, as many homeless animals have discovered who have had the misfortune of entering their animal control shelter system. The same is true of Fort Wayne, Indiana, San Mateo, California, and even King County, Washington. By contrast, the three most successful communities in the nation with the highest percentage of animals going home alive only passively enforce dog laws, and have no cat laws.

Legislation promises a quick fix, a reason to celebrate after passage. But it isn’t so. And denying it by pretending it is a magic formula to change the life and death calculus for shelter animals isn’t fair to the homeless creatures whose lives often depend on animal lovers and activists effectively advocating on their behalf.

The No Kill Advocacy Center
The No Kill Advocacy Center is the nation’s first organization dedicated solely to the promotion of a No Kill nation. And it is the only national animal welfare agency that is staffed by people who have actually worked in and created a No Kill community.

But the challenges we face are great. From entrenched bureaucrats who are content with the status quo, to uncaring shelter directors hostile to calls for reform; from agencies mired in the failed philosophies of the past to those who have internalized a culture of defeatism—the roadblocks to No Kill are substantial, but not insurmountable.

We have a choice. We can fully, completely and without reservation embrace No Kill as our future. Or we can continue to legitimize the two-prong strategy of failure: adopt a few and kill the rest. It is a choice which history has thrown upon us. And a challenge that the No Kill Advocacy Center is ready to take on.

Your tax deductible contribution will help us hasten the day when animals find in their shelter a new beginning—instead of the end of the line. Working together, we can build an alternative consensus to traditional sheltering models—one which is oriented toward promoting and preserving life. An alternative which seeks to create a future where every animal will be respected and cherished, and where every individual life will be protected and revered.

To make a gift in any amount, click here.

The No-Kill Advocacy Center (
P.O. Box 74926 San Clemente CA 92673 (949) 276-6942

HSUS and Doris Day Animal League merger

The Humane Society of the United States and Doris Day Animal League Announce Merger and Join Forces to Enhance Work for Animals
[Press Release]

Details on the merger announcement by The Humane Society of the United States and Doris Day Animal League, including comments by actress Doris Day.
Washington (PRWEB) September 5, 2006 -– Two of the nation’s top animal protection organizations announced today that they are joining forces in a corporate combination that will result in increased public policy activity and coordination on animal welfare issues and further streamline operations among national animal advocacy groups.

“The Humane Society of the United States is delighted to join with the Doris Day Animal League to create an even more powerful voice for animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. “I have been an admirer of Doris Day and her organization for many years, and it is a privilege now to be able to work so closely with her and the organization.”

The combination follows The HSUS’ merger with the Fund for Animals in 2005, which was formed in 1967 by author Cleveland Amory, and the group’s recent hiring of former United Animal Nations president Jennifer Fearing and Compassion Over Killing leaders Miyun Park and Paul Shapiro. “Our members often wonder why groups and individuals with a common purpose do not join together, and we are heeding their call to do just that,” adds Pacelle.

Legendary actress and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree Doris Day founded the Doris Day Animal League in 1987 to work on animal welfare legislation at the federal, state and local level. DDAL has more than 180,000 members and supporters and has worked over the years for the passage of bills to end the sale of videos that depict animal cruelty such as fetish animal “crush” videos and to require the use of alternatives to animal tests. It has strongly backed efforts to end the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and worked to pass laws in the states to regulate the sale of puppies, require counseling for animal abusers, and reduce or eliminate animal testing for cosmetics.

DDAL has partnered successfully with The HSUS on many issues over the years, including aid for Hurricane Katrina victims, greyhound racing, animal testing of household products and cosmetics, and the addition of bittering agents to anti-freeze to protect children and animals. The Doris Day Animal League combination paves the way for increased public policy activity by The HSUS’ affiliate, The Humane Society Legislative Fund, by combining the existing organization’s membership and donor support with DDAL.

“There is no other group like The Humane Society of the United States,” Day said. “We are very enthusiastic about being part of this organization and combining our resources to help the animals.”

Day and Pacelle met recently at Day’s home in Carmel, Calif., and discussed plans for the possible combination of operations. “Our visions are in lock step now,” Pacelle said. “We both want to strengthen the capacity of the humane movement, and we recognize that we can achieve that by combining our operations, in order to eliminate duplicative programs and to create a more powerful force for animal protection.”

DDAL Executive Director Holly Hazard will become Chief Innovation Officer at The HSUS, where she will focus on new initiatives for two of HSUS’ existing programs – Wild Neighbors and Pets for Life – and develop new business ventures. Sara Amundson, DDAL legislative director, will become executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

The HSUS has pursued an aggressive growth strategy since Pacelle took over as president and CEO of The HSUS in 2004. The combination with the Fund for Animals led to the creation of a campaigns department that focuses on four major areas – animal cruelty, fur, factory farming and abusive sport hunting practices. The HSUS has also created an in-house litigation team that has more than 40 active cases in state and federal courts. The group’s list of on-line animal advocates has also developed dramatically. The HSUS’ 2006 budget is $103 million, more than double the 1996 annual budget of $42 million. The organization employees more than 400 people, a 60 percent increase from 2000.

The HSUS’ growth reflects the growing popularity and strength of the animal protection movement. With the commitment and support of its robust membership, HSUS has spearheaded successful efforts to pass more than 60 state laws this year, won several cases to protect wildlife and enforce laws banning trapping and cockfighting, and helped pass legislation in Congress to protect pets in disasters and close a tax scam by trophy hunters.

Media Contacts:
Rachel Querry: 301-258-8255
Linda Dozoretz: 323-656-4499

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than 9.5 million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammals, animals in research, equine protection, and farm animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy and field work. The nonprofit organization is based in Washington and has field representatives and offices across the country.

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reactions in the news from hunting, outdoors, agricultural groups or publications!

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See my related post about Spay Day USA 2007!

Spay Day USA 2007

Greetings, spay/neuter advocates and all!

Spay Day USA has a new website,, and is now a program of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) after their recent merger with the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL)! Spay Day USA was previously a program of the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF).

The 13th annual Spay Day USA will be held on Tuesday, February 27, 2007.

stray/feral cat caretaker program: Maryland SPCA Baltimore

September 2006:
Maryland SPCA What's New

Feral Cat Caretaker Program

The Maryland SPCA has devised a stray/feral cat caretaker program. This program is in place to assist those working to maintain the health of feral colonies and those that are striving to pro-actively reduce future populations.

Using existing resources The Maryland SPCA hopes to offer feral cat caretakers the support needed to better serve the feral cat population in Baltimore.

If you are aware of a feral cat caretaker in need of support, or you are a feral cat caretaker interested in participating, please review the detailed information here and contact the program coordinator, Marie, via email or call 410-235-8826 ext. 121. Click here for a detailed description of the program.

downloadable pdf file:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kitty bitter: Woman fined $525 for off-leash cats

Kitty bitter: Woman fined $525 for off-leash cats
Palm Beach Post, Florida - September 21, 2006
By Daphne Duret
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

STUART — Silver kittens shook furiously from Ellie Booth's ears Wednesday morning as she stood up, slung her leather kitty cat purse over her shoulder and scowled at the Martin County Animal Control officers walking out of the courtroom.

"Come on, guys, have a heart!" she said to their backs. "Martin County needs to get into the 21st century!"

In the defendant's chair, Kristen Nielander hung her head and sobbed. Five other women, cat lovers who had come to the Martin County Courthouse looking for victory against the county's controversial leash law, shrugged and wiped tears from their own eyes.

They had hoped Wednesday's trial would clear Nielander of having to pay fines for caring for five stray cats animal control workers trapped in March. Instead, Martin County Judge Kathleen Roberts sided with animal control workers, saying the fact that Nielander claimed the strays at the humane society — even if she thought she was saving them from being euthanized — made her liable for $525 in fines for not keeping them on leashes.

The five cats animal control workers caught in March were part of a colony of 25 feral cats Nielander has fed and cared for in Jensen Beach over the past three years.

Nielander and the other cat lovers in court Wednesday said they use the Trap-Neuter-Release method, or TNR, to control the feral cat populations they care for throughout the county. Nielander said she has paid to spay and neuter most of the cats in her colony, reducing the population from 60 to 25 cats.

Her trial Wednesday rested on the question of whether her care for the feral cats made her their owner. County animal control workers said in their eyes, it did. They said she would not have had to pay the fine had she left the cats at the shelter.

"The animal control unit doesn't recognize feral. If you feed them, you own them," officer Karen Kneubehl testified.

Maris Sine, a member of the Hobe Sound Animal Protection League and president of Domino's House, a no-kill animal shelter in Palm City, has supported Nielander throughout her fight against the fine. She and others, like Booth, say the leash law is archaic and have tried to have cats exempted. So far those efforts have failed.

"Now people will leave the cats at the shelter because they're afraid they'll get fined," Sine said after the verdict. "Every stray or homeless cat is now at risk."

As for Nielander, she said she doesn't regret the decision she made. Four of the cats now live at Domino's House. The fifth has been adopted. She and her attorney, Steve Glucksman, said they haven't decided whether they will appeal.

"All I know is I'm going to keep fighting," Nielander said.

Group works with feral cats at UTEP El Paso

Group works with feral cats at UTEP
El Paso Times, Texas - September 21, 2006
By Erica Molina Johnson / El Paso Times

Mirian Cabrera graduated from UTEP in 2003, but her love for the feral cats making their home there keeps her coming back to campus.
“They are all over campus you wouldn't notice if you're a student, and they usually come out at night when everybody is gone,” she said.

Although she is no longer a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, she continues to be a member of Cat University Rescue Effort, or CURE. The group is made up of current and former student volunteers.

They have worked for about five years to trap UTEP's feral cats, taking them to local veterinarians for spaying or neutering, vaccinations and feline leukemia testing. They work to find homes for any new litters, and return altered adult cats to the university.

Veterinarian Roger Freund, president of the El Paso Veterinary Medical Association, said feral cats are an issue in any city, and are commonly found at universities and colleges.

“The university is a great habitat for feral cats. There's lots of places to hide, lots of food, lots of birds around,” Freund said.

“The main problem is they are a reservoir for diseases like feline leukemia and feline AIDS. It's an unhealthy population,” Freund said. “If they get around our pet cats it's a source of infection.”

CURE's trap and neuter program is similar to another run by Pets Alive and many others in the nation.

“The idea is to get enough animals who are sterilized where they kind of act as drones,” said Mark Lenox, a veterinarian at Crossroads Animal Hospital who performs some of the surgeries on CURE's cats. “They're not repopulating, but taking up space.”

He said if the cats were simply destroyed new ones would move into their place.

Cabrera said the group is looking for help, particularly people to help raise money to pay veterinarian bills. She said volunteers are also needed to help trap cats and to find homes for the very young kittens.

She estimated the number of feral cats at UTEP to be around 100.

Member Becky Kowalewski said during the winter CURE puts up shelters for the feral cats. Group members also regularly feed them.

Cabrera said she hopes the feral cat population at UTEP gets further under control.

“It's a sad place for them to be. They go through a lot of danger,” Cabrera said.

She said although she is no longer a student she has no plans to stop helping.

“We keep doing it because we can't abandon them or stop taking care of them,” Cabrera said. “We still see kittens being born on campus, so we need to continue the spay and neuter program.”

Erica Molina Johnson may be reached at; 546-6132.

Effort underway to reduce feral cat population

Effort underway to reduce feral cat population
Mount Shasta Herald, California - September 21, 2006
By Sibyl Walski

The Siskiyou Trap, Alter and Release Program offered a workshop in trapping feral cats for neutering in Lake Shastina and almost no one responded.

Barbara Lovelace, founder/ treasurer of the STAR program stresses the significance of the feral cat problem.

“We trapped and altered 429 cats in this county in the last year and a half,” Lovelace said. “More than 200 were from Lake Shastina. We also managed to get 105 kittens adopted out.”

In July 2006, 12 cats were neutered and 13 adopted, according to members. Six remained available for adoption in four foster homes at the time of the workshop two weeks ago. A member of the group sits outside Ray's Food Place in Mount Shasta every Tuesday with adoptable cats and kittens.

Members also manage four colonies in Mount Shasta by providing food, water and shelter on a daily basis.

“We are working in the Lake Shastina area but need the residents to tell us where the colonies are,” added Susan Haight, secretary and grant writer for the group. “If we can show numbers, we can get grants (to cover the costs).”

Lovelace said STAR began in 2004 as the TAR program under the umbrella of the Siskiyou Humane Society. The feral cat neutering program became so large that the Humane Society decided to focus its spay/neuter program on domestic cats that came through the shelter. In May of this year STAR became its own California nonprofit organization.

For now, they subsist on donations and fundraisers such as yard sales to raise the money they need for food, shelter and neutering services. Much of their operating funds come out of members' own pockets. A fundraising dinner is planned for early in December.

The group works with a veterinarian who comes up once a month from the Simi Valley in southern California only to do feral spay/neuters. One month is devoted to cats from the north county and the next month is for south county captures.

He charges the organization only for the surgery packs and vaccinations. There is no cost to the caregiver.

Why is this a better solution?

As Lovelace states in a letter to the editor in this week's paper, “trap, neuter, return” is a humane method for reducing feral cat populations. “Once you've stopped the breeding, you've stopped the problem.”

Managing a feral colony is intended to be a proposition with diminishing returns. The animals are fed once a day and provided with water and shelter, but the animals do not reproduce and colony members will die out completely years earlier than domestic cats.

The veterinarian who does the surgeries for the group informed Lovelace that statistics show the average life of a feral cat is only two to five years. Predators, the elements and passing cars will all take their toll. In the meantime, their basic needs are met.

How to get the service

The caregiver is usually the one that contacts STAR. The group then provides humane traps and instructions on how to trap the animals. Members will assist in the trapping if the caretaker is elderly or physically disabled.

The caregiver then brings the trapped cat in the cage to the clinic, fills out a form and picks up the animal to return to the colony after the surgery.

The cat is checked thoroughly for illness, given a rabies shot and treated with a dose of a drug that kills intestinal parasites, heartworm, fleas, ticks and ear mites. Sick cats are given a hefty dose of an antibiotic.

The right ear of adults is “tipped” (e.g. the tip is removed). “This is the universal way to indicate that the cat is part of a managed colony and has been neutered,” said Lovelace.

Tamable kittens are not “tipped” and are taken to Mount Shasta Animal Hospital for neutering.

The caretaker holds the males for 24 hours before releasing them back to their environment. Females are held 3 to 4 days.

For further information about the services offered, volunteering with the group, donations, and/or the fundraiser, interested parties can call:

-- Pat Killingsworth (the group's president): 938-4913;

-- Susan Haight (secretary): 938-4885, or

-- Barbara Lovelace (treasurer): 926-6388.

Volunteer Finds Cats Better Homes Than Alley

Volunteer Finds Cats Better Homes Than Alley
Washington Post, United States
Strays and the Samaritan
Volunteer Finds Cats Better Homes Than Alley
By Carrie Donovan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 21, 2006; Page DZ01

In a dirty downtown alley north of Massachusetts Avenue, two women set up an evening buffet for 10 feral cats. Some tabbies gather on the roof of a nearby garage. A sleek, charcoal-gray cat ventures out to take a mouthful. Later, a Siamese that was not born into the group crawls under a chain-link fence and scares off the others.

"Nobody likes him. He's a bully," explains Marion Del Priore, one of the women trying to trap the cats.

Del Priore discovered the colony of 23 cats six years ago and has spent thousands of dollars and countless hours feeding them, taking them to the veterinarian and finding good homes for as many as she could. But looming construction and unkind acts by passers-by have made her fearful for the safety of the cats that remain. Through word of mouth, she recently found a no-kill, no-cage rescue operation in the Pittsburgh area that has offered to take all of them.

Del Priore just has to catch the cats in cages and drive them there, which is why she is standing in the alley on an overcast evening with Juliette Briscoe, office manager at the Adams Morgan Animal Clinic. The two have set a tray of cat food in the road and another dish of food inside a crate. A female tabby enters the cage but bolts when a man opens his garage door.

The women wait patiently until the man drives away and the cat returns to the cage. Slowly, Del Priore sneaks closer to the door. Bang! She slams the door. Another cat is ready to go to the Pittsburgh cat sanctuary.

Del Priore, who declined to give her age, found the cats when she followed a kitten into the alley behind her studio, where she did decorative painting and faux finishing. A man who ran a flower business in the alley used to feed them, and his homeless brother regularly slept in the garage with some of the cats. But the flower business has gone, and the homeless brother died. Del Priore has taken over the care of the cats, even though she no longer works in the area. Years ago, she allowed the lease on her studio to expire.

It has been a daunting task to care for and find homes for 23 feral cats, animals that tend to be sick, dirty and unsocialized. The task became even more challenging after some became pregnant, and a few interlopers, such as the Siamese, joined the group. But Del Priore has managed to keep the population down by trapping the animals and getting them spayed and neutered. She also has paid for vaccinations.

But this alley is not as safe for the cats as it once was. Land on both sides has been sold. Del Priore fears that the cats do not have much time before their habitat becomes a construction site. Also, the people who live and work in nearby buildings complain about the cats and kick over their water dishes, Del Priore said.

"I'm afraid they're going to be poisoned," she said. "I can't wait until all the cats are gone and this place is infested with rats."

Most people do not understand why she would go to the alley every day, squeezing time out of a schedule that is full from working in Washington and rehabbing investment properties in Baltimore.

She's been called "Cat Lady," which Del Priore does not consider a compliment. But the petite professional woman hardly deserves the fanatical "Cat Lady" stereotype. She keeps two cats at home, neither from this colony. They are 16 and 17. She said she has tried to take another cat home, but one of her pets has "a behavior problem."

With the discounts from the Adams Morgan Animal Clinic, her last bill was still more than $1,100. But Del Priore has received some help from the community.

Volunteers from the Feline Foundation of Greater Washington, based in Merrifield, Va., came out with food and 19 traps in 2000. Members of the Washington Animal Rescue League and the fire department once joined efforts to get a cat out of a chimney in an abandoned building. Briscoe frequently joins Del Priore in the alley and has given some of the cats to clients at the Adams Morgan clinic.

The clinic gives Del Priore discounts, partly because of her long-term business relationship with it and partly because the cats are feral. The clinic also gives the cats free exams and baths, 50 percent off the fee for spaying and neutering, and 35 percent off vaccinations.

"We also give breaks to other people who bring in feral cats, but she's consistent, like family," Briscoe said. "She brings in five or six at a time."

Del Priore heard about the Pittsburgh area rescue operation and called, hoping to find a home for a black cat named "Simon," who was missing an ear. Instead, the operation offered to take all the remaining cats.

The rescue operation houses about 375 cats in a facility on 300 acres, said a steward who spoke on the condition that she and her place not be named. She said she fears the operation would be overwhelmed with calls (and cats) if it were identified. The operation does not have a Web site and does not accept voicemail messages.

Those who get through on the telephone can speak with the steward only between 10 p.m. and midnight, but the line is frequently busy. All referrals come from humane officers and word of mouth.

The steward said the owner of the property donates his income to the operation and that the cats are kept in three heated buildings, where 75 volunteers tend to them. About 500 cats were adopted from the sanctuary last year, she said. She confirmed that the farm is prepared to take all the cats from Del Priore.

"There are six cats for every human alive in the U.S.," the steward said during a late-night phone interview. "As long as supply exceeds demand by six times, I have to fly under the radar."

Del Priore hopes to catch the remaining eight cats soon. She considers one of the cats (a silver tabby with a white bib) "adoptable" and would like to place it with someone locally. She named this friendly cat "Butch," after the homeless man who had tamed him.

And what will Del Priore do when the last cat has been caught?

She plans to get married. She got engaged in February.

Crush of cats cries for limiting breeding

Crush of cats cries for limiting breeding
The Oregonian, Portland Oregon - September 21, 2006
By Arthur Gregg Sulzberger

Driving home one day last month, Katie Kuzmenko saw two kittens huddled on the side of the road. They obviously had been abandoned, and the 19-year-old Troutdale native couldn't pass them by. She pulled over, put them in her car and took them home.
But she couldn't keep them. Her cat, once suspected of being male, had just given birth for the sixth time in three years. So Kuzmenko packed up the castaways and headed for the Multnomah County Animal Shelter.
The kittens were among the 20 unwanted cats that arrive at the shelter on a typical summer day. It's cat-breeding season, the shelter's most hectic time of year, a time when careless owners end up with multiplying pets . About half of the cats dropped off never are adopted and, usually within three days, are euthanized. Although the shelter accepts pets of all kinds -- an 8-foot boa constrictor currently is the most exotic charge in the Troutdale facility -- in recent years it has been inundated with cats, more than 5,100 last year. In March the shelter, which has a $2.8 million annual budget, opened a brand new $100,000 "cattery" to handle the summer surge. The rest of the year is quieter, averaging fewer than 10 cats a day.
"The number of cats entering this facility has increased 80 percent in the past five years," says Mike Oswald, county animal services director. "We have to come up with a preventative program."
Here's why: One cat can give birth to as many as four kittens up to three times a year, according to the Oregon Humane Society. Each in turn reaches sexual maturity as quickly as four months. Over seven years one particularly amorous cat could be blamed -- statistically at least -- for more than 400,000 felines. Or as Oswald puts it, "Cats are very successful breeders."
That's why neuter and spaying is the mantra of cat management. "We can't build our way out of the crisis, this solution is high-volume, low-cost spaying and neutering," says John Rowton, the shelter's manager.
Next month area animal shelters will send a veterinary van to a health clinic in Southeast, an area with a high number of drop-offs, to spay and neuter cats. Low-income pet owners will be asked for $5 or $10 for surgery and vaccinations, which normally cost about $400. The shelters raised $20,000 for the low-cost program and hope for additional grant support.
In the past five years in Oregon, the number of cats taken to shelters has increased to about 45,000 annually; 50 percent to 60 percent end up euthanized, according to rough estimates by the Humane Society. The Multnomah County shelter sees the largest share of those animals except for the privately run Willamette Humane Society and the Oregon Humane Society.
Cats have quietly become our pet of choice. True, Portland recently was named the most dog-friendly city in America, but we lead big cities in cat ownership with 44 percent of adults owning one, usually two.
The trend trickles down to the shelter, where dogs outnumbered cats as recently as 2003. Dog drop-offs have held steady, but unwanted cats have increased for six straight years . In the shelter, dogs have it better:

Page 2 of 2
Owners retrieve 40 percent of dogs, just 3 percent of cats.
18 percent of dogs are adopted, most within a week; 22 percent of cats get adopted.
Dog euthanasia dropped from more than 40 percent a decade ago to 26 percent last year, a five-year high.
Cat are twice as likely to be euthanized. Last year 49 percent of cats were euthanized, down from 75 percent a decade ago. Housing a cat costs about $8 a day; euthanizing and cremating a cat costs $10 to $25.
Oswald, the animal services director, says people take more responsibility for dogs. Owners generally keep them leashed or indoors, neutered or spayed, and up to date on vaccinations.
Unlike dogs, cats are usually cheap, if not free, which contributes to the perception that they're not worth the hefty price of veterinary care, Oswald says. The shelter charges $100 for adopted cats -- which come neutered and vaccinated -- in part to create a sense of value, Oswald says.
Most visitors to the shelter, including Kari Hampton and her two girls, Lainie, 5, and Johanna, 7, head straight to the kitten cages. The cattery is an airy cat boardinghouse paid for with private donations. Cages line one wall with mostly young cats clawing for attention from the handful of visitors. Another wall has spacious cells for the cats to roam and play.
Johanna quickly settles on a black tabby with clumsy claws and a fascination for long hair. Lainie falls for the gray-and-white "Sugarplum." After a brief pouting battle on which cat to take home, finally -- after tears -- the black tab wins.
But even as one kitten was adopted, several older charges were dropped off. In July and August: 1,328 cats were taken in, 179 were adopted.
Sara Hertel left a young cat she found living under her Jeep. She put a picture of the cat on Craigslist hoping to find its owner, but the few inquiries didn't pan out.
"We tried to keep it but it wouldn't get along with our dog," Hertel says. "In our neighborhood in Southeast there's tons of cats.
"They look like kittens that people let go."

Arthur Gregg Sulzberger: 503-221-8330;

Reported cat shootings worry East Norriton residents

Reported cat shootings worry East Norriton residents
Norristown Times Herald, Pennsylvania - September 21, 2006
By: KELLY DEVINE, Times Herald Staff

EAST NORRITON - An alleged "pile of dead cats" were reportedly discovered along the banks of the Stony Creek in late May.

A resident of the 100 block of Norwood Lane reported the dead animals to the police on Tuesday, more than three months after the discovery.

According to police reports, a neighbor said that the dead cats appeared to have been shot.

Police spoke to neighbors on Norwood Lane and Township Line who both said that there were many feral, or wild, cats at the rear of their properties in the wooded areas near the creek.

Both neighbors also reported hearing "popping sounds" and gunshots in spring and summer that one neighbor identified as possibly from a .22 caliber firearm.

"If there's somebody here on my street or Township Line shooting animals, it's not gonna take long for them to shoot something else," said Mary Beth Whitehawk, who made the report.

"Nobody should be out in a residential area where there's kids. I have kids. Most people around me have kids."
She said she continues to hear the noises.

"I hear the popping sounds all the time," Whitehawk said. "Next time I hear any kind of popping noises, I'm heading (to the police.)"

Lt. Kurt Taboga, of the East Norriton Police Department, encourages residents to come to the police as soon as they hear or see anything suspicious.

"If somebody hears what they think is gunshots, even if they have the sneaking suspicion it's fireworks, give us a call and we'll come out and investigate," he said.

The discharging of a firearm is illegal in East Norriton.
Because of the stale information and lack of physical evidence, police documented the complaint for information at this time.

Taboga said he believes that animal cruelty charges are only brought on if the animals have owners, but he would refer to the SPCA before referring any charges if a suspect were to be apprehended.

Whitehawk said the number of cats she cares for has increased this summer because the mothers were killed, and she's having a difficult time getting rid of them.

"I keep getting more and more kittens," she said.

Whitehawk said she currently has eight homeless kittens she's caring for, and she just gave away three more.

"If it's true, it's horrible. This is a populated area," said Diane Schwarz, president of the Kitty Adoption Team Inc. about the thought of cats being shot in the local area.

"We're talking about a community where children play, where people have dogs on their properties. It's scary that there's people with guns, let alone shooting poor little creatures."

The Kitty Adoption Team is an all-volunteer young kitten rescue and network of foster homes that also do Trap-Neuter-Release work, where semi-feral and feral cats are humanely trapped, tested and vaccinated then returned to the environment.

Schwarz said the organization, which is based out of Pet Valu at Routes 202 and 73 in Blue Bell, helps more than 500 kittens per year with the help of Drs. Prier and Abdel from the Centre Square Vet Clinic.

For more information on the Kitty Adoption Team, visit or call 610-272-4970.

Contact the SPCA if a feral cat population exists in your neighborhood.

Kelly Devine can be reached at or 610-272-2500, ext. 204.

©The Times Herald 2006

Helena Ellis a Home Town Hero!

Thanks to Judy Cataldo for sharing this on September 8 and congratulations to Helena!

Helena Ellis, president of Metrowest Animal Awareness Society in Massachusetts was nominated and chosen as a Home Town Hero by WBZ Radio! The link below leads to the podcast.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Declawing Banned Nationwide Under Animal Welfare Act

Thanks much to Susan W. of community!^..^!CATalysts TNR network!

Subject: Declawing Banned Nationwide Under Animal Welfare Act
Date: 9/13/2006





September 12, 2006

310 795-6215 or 877 PAW-PROJECT

Contact: Jennifer Conrad, DVM

Declawing Banned nationwide under Animal Welfare act

LOS ANGELES, September 12 – Declawing captive wild or exotic animals such as lions, tigers, wolves and bears is no longer permitted under the federal Animal Welfare Act. In the recently announced policy decision of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency has declared that declawing, the amputation of the claw-forming bone of an animal's foot, cannot be performed with the intent of making the animals easier to handle. According to the USDA, declawing is "no longer considered to be acceptable when performed solely for handling or husbandry purposes since (declawing) can cause considerable pain and discomfort to the animal and may result in chronic health problems." Defanging, or the removal of canine teeth, from these animals and from primates, such as monkeys and apes, has also been banned.

"This policy change is the culmination of efforts by many animal advocates within and outside the USDA," stated Dr. Jennifer Conrad, director of the Paw Project and exotic animal veterinarian. "It will spare captive animals the crippling pain and misery caused by declawing."

The new policy applies to animals held by USDA license holders including exhibitors, dealers and breeders of wild and exotic animals, as well as research facilities. This decision is estimated to affect thousands of animals. Though the new policy does not affect animals previously altered by these methods, it will protect all animals that have not had these procedures already performed.

Continued routine use of these procedures may subject USDA license holders to citation for noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act and may result in a fine or license revocation.

The crippling effects of declawing were first presented in a scientific paper by Dr. Jennifer Conrad at the 2002 conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. An attendee of the conference, Dr. Timothy Reichard, then a veterinarian at the Toledo Zoo, expressed interest in Dr. Conrad’s findings. Armed with her data, Dr. Reichard authored the 2004 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) animal welfare position paper which opposes declawing big cats and which is the basis for the new USDA policy.

USDA Big Cat Specialist, Dr. Laurie Gage has written that "declawing big cats, especially the larger species, is inhumane" and that "depriving them of their claws because they have an owner who has no idea of how to handle or manage them seems unjustified."

The declawing of wild and exotic cats is already illegal in California as the result of AB 1857, the Paw Project-sponsored bill, which was authored by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2004. Declawing is classified as "mutilation" by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British counterpart of the AVMA.

Currently there are more than 100 big cat sanctuaries in 41 states caring for thousands of declawed cats. Since 2000, veterinarians working with the Paw Project have performed reparative surgery on over fifty lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, and jaguars that had been victims of declaw surgery. The surgery cannot replace the missing claws, but can lessen many of the crippling effects of declawing.

"This is a major victory for the animals and those who care about them," said Conrad.

For more information, please contact Paw Project director Dr. Jennifer Conrad at 310-795-6215 or


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Learn more about the work of the Paw Project.

Animal Welfare policies
August 2006 Policy #3 Veterinary Care:

Policies Animal Care Resource Guide
Veterinary Care Issue Date: August 18, 2006

Procedures Not to be Used in Wild or Exotic Carnivores or Nonhuman Primates

Declawing of wild (indigenous) and exotic (nonindigenous) carnivores and the removal or reduction of canine teeth in nonhuman primates and wild and exotic carnivores have been used in the past in an attempt to minimize dangers presented during human interaction with these species. These procedures are not innocuous and can cause ongoing pain, discomfort, or other pathological conditions in the animals. Providing adequate veterinary care for nonhuman primates and wild and exotic carnivores does not allow for the removal or reduction of canine teeth for any reason other that immediate veterinary need of the animal, or the declawing of any wild or exotic carnivore. Any medical treatment of a paw problem should be limited to the affected digit(s) or area and would not require bilateral declawing.

We are adopting the position statements of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on these practices because the AVMA is the largest veterinary medical organization in the United States, these positions reflect the generally accepted veterinary standards. Not everyone has access to the AVMA information, so we are including the position statements of the AVMA (2006):

“Declawing Captive Exotic and Wild (Indigenous) Cats The AVMA opposes declawing captive exotic and other wild (indigenous) cats for nonmedical reasons.” “Removal or Reduction of Canine Teeth in Captive Nonhuman Primates or Exotic and Wild (Indigenous) Carnivores The AVMA is opposed to removal or reduction of canine teeth in captive nonhuman primates or exotic and wild (indigenous) carnivores, except when required for medical treatment or scientific research approved by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Reduction that does not expose the pulp cavity may be acceptable. Reduction that exposes the pulp cavity, without pulpotomy or root canal, or removal of these teeth may result in oral pathologic conditions and pain. To minimize bite wounds, recommended alternatives to dental surgery include behavioral modification, environmental enrichment, and changes in group composition.”

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Trouble at wild-animal parks? Study cites lax US regulations for private exhibitors.
By Mark Clayton Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
August 31, 2006

The grainy picture, taken at a private wild-animal park, shows a girl reaching out to pet, or grab, the tail of a full-grown leopard. How will the leopard react?

As the debate over private ownership of exotic pets intensifies in the US, attention is also beginning to fall on private wildlife exhibits that display "big cats" like lions, tigers, and leopards.

Licensed by the US government, these parks are required to put "significant barriers" between visitors and big cats. But there's enough gray area in the law so that some facilities permit close contact with the animals, including touching them - sometimes with tragic results.

In the year since 17-year-old Haley Hilderbrand was fatally mauled while posing for her senior photo with a leashed tiger at a Kansas wild-animal park, pressure has grown at federal and state levels to explicitly ban public contact with big cats at facilities that are licensed and regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In April, Kansas became the first state to ban direct contact between humans and potentially dangerous animals at wildlife exhibits. It also joined 21 states that prohibit private ownership of certain big cats.

Last month, Rep. Jim Ryun (R) of Kansas introduced legislation in Congress to beef up the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which governs animal safety at USDA-regulated facilities. His bill would prohibit direct contact between big cats and the public and require the USDA to write public-safety regulations for exhibitor licensees.

Activists say AWA rules are too weak to ensure that the animals are securely kept and well maintained - or to protect humans from the animals on display. "We're not even that critical of the USDA because it doesn't really have the authority it needs to deal with the public-safety problem," says Greg Wetstone of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a Yarmouth Port, Mass., animal rights group.

About 5,000 lions, tigers, and other big cats are kept by nearly 700 USDA big-cat licensees in the United States. Someone seeking a license to exhibit tigers is subject to requirements similar to those for someone seeking a goat license, IFAW reported last week, after a year-long investigation of such facilities.

As a result, in states where private ownership of exotic animals is banned, people can legally keep their animals by getting a USDA license as an exhibitor. In a rising number of cases, license applicants are mom-and-pop outfits building animal collections.

"These animals are dangerous, and it takes a lot to contain and feed them," says Mr. Wetstone of the IFAW, which included in its report the grainy photo of the girl touching the leopard. "So some folks decide to make a few bucks and escape state rules barring them as pets. They go get a USDA license."

The IFAW report - which looked at 42 wild-animal exhibits in 11 states, all USDA-licensed - cites these problems.

• Most of these big-cat facilities are "structurally unsound."

• Most allow public contact between people and big cats.

• "Vermin and grossly inadequate sewage disposal" are often evident. Meat fed to big cats is often rotten.

• Many facilities have no attendants at big-cat exhibits, and some "allowed children to work as attendants."

In the past decade, there have been 13 big-cat-related incidents in Florida, 12 in Texas, six in California, and five each in Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota, and Kansas. Since 1990, 13 people have died in these incidents, IFAW says.

A USDA spokesman says AWA regulations are adequate to keep the public safe and are zealously policed by its team of inspectors.

"There is no public-safety crisis," says Darby Holladay with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "Whenever any incident occurs, the USDA animal-care program looks into it. If there's a possible violation of the Animal Welfare Act, enforcement action is taken."

The process can be slow. In the case of the park in Kansas where Hilderbrand was mauled, the USDA has yet to decide on whether to revoke the operator's big-cat license.

Critics of the IFAW report say it fails to deliver specific violations at specific facilities. "I don't think it's a well-informed report," says Marcus Cook, spokesman for the Feline Conservation Federation, which represents big-cat exhibitors. "If they know something, let's report it. If you've got a valid complaint, let's make it to the USDA. Don't just throw a bunch of numbers out there."

An IFAW member says the group has more than 2,000 photos documenting the violations cited in its report. "Our staff member was at [one] facility when a leopard bit the finger off an untrained worker," says Josephine Martell, a principal author of the report. "You can't just say, 'here's the tiger. Take care of him. I'm going to get some coffee.' But that's what's happening."