Anne Arundel County is currently considering a bill (Bill No. 96-17), introduced by Congressmember John Grasso, that would provide humane guidelines for cat caretakers and animal control officers. This bill defines important terms such as community cat, community cat caregiver and eartipping. It also exempts eartipped cats from impoundment by animal control and allows cat caregivers to pick up community cats that become impounded without having to prove ownership or pay the applicable fees. Community cats will be held for at least five days unless they are “extremely aggressive, seriously injured, or suffering.” Anne Arundel County currently has no ordinances applying to trap-neuter-return. This bill will provide clarity and enable cat caregivers to implement TNR.
The most recent statistics available from Anne Arundel County’s Animal Control website from July-September 2017 indicate that a large amount of time, money and resources are used to handle community cats. Animal control stated that unowned cats compromise 17% of their intake and 70% of their euthanasia, excluding owner requested euthanasia. Research shows that community cats can live long, healthy lives outdoors with proper care. It is unnecessary and wasteful for animal control to use so many resources on euthanizing these cats.
ACR urges Anne Arundel County residents to tell their city council member that they support Bill No. 96-17! This bill may be voted on as soon as 12/18/17. Some talking points to consider:
- Many people may want to help community cats but could be nervous to start doing so if there are not ordinances that allow for TNR and colony management
- Unlike eradication programs, which are paid for using tax dollars, most TNR programs operate using private money and volunteers. A study found that TNR programs can cut costs in half. With an estimated 87 million free-roaming, community cats in the United States, it would cost government entities about $16 billion to trap and kill these cats as opposed to about $9 billion to support TNR programs run by rescue organizations and individual volunteers
- Many people value their community cats and help in TNR efforts. TNR helps community cats coexist better with people by stopping yowling behavior, providing veterinary care for unhealthy cats and preventing spraying. One study found TNR reduced nuisance behaviors by 61%
- Areas such as Fairfax County, Indianapolis, Denver and San Jose have experienced reductions in shelter intake after implementing TNR
- TNR reduces the population of cats over time through sterilization. A study of a two year TNR program in North Carolina found that the TNR treated cat colonies declined 36% while unsterilized cat colonies increased 47%
Anne Arundel County Animal Control. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aacounty.org/departments/animal-control/forms-and-publications/survey-form-july-sept-2017.pdf
Best Friends Animal Society. “New Research Exposes High Taxpayer Cost for Eradicating Free-Roaming Cats.” Best Friends Animal Society. N.p., 18 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.
Edinboro, C, Watson, H, Fairbrother, A. (2016). Association between a shelter-neuter-return program and cat health at a large municipal animal shelter. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 248(3), 298-308.
Fairfax County Police Department. (January 19, 2012). Trap, Neuter, Return Program Decreases Homeless Feral Cat Population. Retrieved from https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/news-releases/2012/011912trapneuterreturn.htm
Ireland, T. & Neilan, R.M. (2016). A spatial agent-based model of feral cats and analysis of population and nuisance controls. Ecological Modelling, 337, 123-136.
Letters: Animals’ welfare improving in Indy. (October 12, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/10/12/letters-animals-welfare-improving-indy/757506001/
Stoskopf, M. K. & Nutter, F. B. (2004). Analyzing approaches to feral cat management — one size does not fit all. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 225, 1361–1364.