Saturday, April 28, 2012

FACA Policy Change > Feral Unowned Stray Cats

an improved Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) Policy Statement updated in late 2011!
Managing Feral/Unowned/Stray Cats

FACA recognizes that free-roaming cats are an ongoing concern and that measures must be taken with the ultimate goal of having no outdoor cats in the future. However, FACA further realizes that the problem has grown over centuries and the resolution of the problem will take substantial efforts and resources.
Since the number of cats entering shelters continues to rise each year with current practices; FACA recommends each community assess its local issues, resources and practices/policies to develop appropriate management programs for their areas – with the ultimate goal of having no outdoor cats. FACA further encourages community coalitions of stakeholders to best serve the needs of the local community.
With reductions in local animal control budgets and staffing over the past few years it is imperative that the local community, animal welfare organization, and charitable foundations provide the necessary resources to fund these new programs. The core function of the animal control agency is to enforce local and state laws, investigate animal cruelty and to address the issues of homeless and unwanted pets. Those functions tax the financial ability of most, if not all, animal control agencies making it difficult or impossible to fund new programs.
FACA encourages local agencies pass and strictly enforce both leash and license laws for owned cats to limit the number of owned and new cats that might be introduced into the area.
Should the local agencies wish to implement some form of feral/free-roaming cat management plan, the following minimum standards should apply:
• All cats MUST be sterilized and ear-tipped if allowed outdoors.
• Only healthy cats that have been vaccinated should be returned to caregivers and cats should only be returned to the location they came from and not relocated.
• Friendly cats and kittens should be removed and placed for adoption.
• Specific rules should be established to limit the time food may be
placed outdoors (restricting it to daylight hours only), to limit the amount of food available to a proper amount for the known cats (twice a day feeding preferred), and to limit the number of cats they assist. There should be substantial penalties for non-compliance.
• Those cats that are suffering or cannot be treated for illness should be humanely euthanized.
• Ongoing or severe nuisances should be addressed in the plan.
The goal of any community cat management program must be to assure a proper quality of life for the cats’ lifetimes and the elimination of all outdoor cats over time through attrition.

Most recent previous FACA policy (2006) from my files:

Managing Feral/Unowned/Stray Cats
FACA supports the Rabies Advisory Committee Position Statement in the State of Florida Rabies Prevention and Control in Florida, 2006 report:
“Managing Feral/Unowned/Stray Cats (updated 01/06)
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 communities. 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 first half of the 1900s.
Ideally, cats should have regular veterinary care and be maintained inside people’s homes. Allowing 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 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 372.265 and Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.005.”
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.

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Previous related posts on Feral Cats in the News ~ the Feral Cat Blog

September 2006
Florida AC Feral Cat Policy Addition
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Related Feral Cat Blog Resources:

Feral Freedom TNR Program - Jacksonville Florida
download pdf  Best Friends Feral Freedom Guide

Shelter Crowd Control Webinar January 2012 - Dr. Julie Levy