Petition for a Trap Neuter Return Program
Petition for a Trap Neuter Return Program
Why this petition matters
Mayor Linnsie Clark , Councillor Dumanowski, Councillor Hider, Councillor Hirsch, Councillor Knodel, Councillor McGrogan, Councilor Robins, Councilor Sharps, Councilor Van Dyke.
Date July 3rd 2022
I am writing this letter as a citizen with over two decades experience in animal rescue. I would like to address our city’s current homeless cat population and to offer some helpful suggestions to the council in humanely managing the situation. As you are probably aware, there are several methods of controlling cat populations. We are fortunate to have APARC, SPCA, Persian Dreams, and Southern Alberta Humane society addressing adoption, education, fostering, and Bylaw needs. That being said, even with their tremendous efforts, this does not scratch the surface of the community and feral cat population.
Our city is missing a crucial humane method to reduce community cat colonies. The method I am referring to is Trap-Neuter Return or TNR.
The preferred nonlethal method of controlling feral or stray cats is by implementing a Trap-Neuter Return program. In practicing TNR, cats are caught in humane traps, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and returned to the site. Kittens/cats who are friendly or can be socialized are placed into an adoption program to find permanent homes. Cat rescue organizations in our community have advocated for these programs and have consistently hit a wall.
TNR immediately reduces colony sizes, because all kittens and tame cats are removed. Feral cats, who cannot be adopted, are returned to the site, where supervised, long-term care is ensured by dedicated volunteers.
There is already a large network of feral caregivers in our community spending thousands of dollars to get vet care, vaccinate, provide preventive Medicine to stop disease spread, providing food, and getting community cats neutered out of pocket. Regardless of Bylaws or whether a program officially exists, humane people will take matters into their own hands. Inhumane people will also kill animals viewed as nuisance animals. Medicine Hat already has incredible rescues and community members who would make a TNR program a life saving and community building success.
The benefits of TNR are numerous. TNR stabilizes populations at manageable levels, by stopping the reproductive cycle. Over time, the natural cycle of attrition will maintain the stable numbers and any new cats to the colony will be sterilized. Sterilization eliminates common complaints associated with mating behaviors, such as fighting, yowling, and spraying.
TNR is also more effective and less costly than repeated eradication attempts. Complete eradication attempts fail and in some cases are counterproductive because they cause a “vacuum effect.” Biologist Roger Tabor explains that removing cats all together will allow for more cats to quickly fill in the vacant space. However, “if a colony is neutered and returned to its area it will continue to hold the location and keep other cats out by its presence.” In addition, in numerous cases when feral cats are removed from an area, the rodent populations explode, causing further problems. Lastly, TNR is humane to the animals and fosters compassion within the community.
Also, cats who have been trapped and evaluated by a veterinarian are healthier and are less likely to transmit diseases (to other cats and to humans). Females who have been spayed are less susceptible to uterine, ovarian, or mammary cancer, and males who are neutered are less likely to get testicular tumors or have prostate problems. In addition, cats who are “fixed” tend to be less aggressive (fight less, which decreases disease transmission) and wander less (they will keep other cats from joining the colony and it makes managing them easier). Lastly, a rabies vaccine is administered; which provides a buffer zone between wildlife and humans, and decreases the risk of the public coming in contact with an unvaccinated cat.
From an Urban wildlife standpoint stabilizing cat populations saves the lives of millions of native birds and small native mammals. Cats are currently the number one threat to these populations and in some cases can cause complete eradication.
Many feral and community Cats are not suitable house pets and are considered unadoptable. Almost all can live healthy outdoor lives with the help of TNR, and community carers who provide feral food and shelter.
Education, free Spay and Neuter programs, low cost Spay and Neuter programs, adoption programs, fostering programs, and TNR work together to create a robust and humane solution to the current cat overpopulation crisis in our city.