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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Alley Cat Allies, a national organization that advocates for humane treatment of cats, has responded to the study published in the journal Nature that is being widely quoted as justification to kill feral cats because they are killing millions of birds.
Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, noted that some of the research cited is more than 50 years old, and the study did not include the considerable effects of habitat destruction and pollution on wildlife population. The study endorsed continuing the failed policies of catching and killing healthy cats in pounds and shelters at taxpayer expense.
Come to rural Franklin County and take a look at hundreds of acres of woodlands that have been clear-cut within a few weeks’ time. A bird watchers trail sign is posted along the roadside at one of these clear-cuts. Well, at least the trees won’t get in the way of possibly sighting birds that once roosted there.
Common sense tells me that habitat destruction on a large scale has a far greater impact than barn cats. In an ideal world, all kitties would have a home for life. I wish the same for dogs and puppies. Welcome to the real world.
Everyone on the front lines of animal rescue is bombarded daily with requests to take in animals that need homes. We don’t have enough homes for friendly cats and kittens, much less feral cats that will not adjust to life indoors.
In August 2010, I wrote a commentary about the number of animals killed at our region’s animal control pounds (“Good way to reduce unwanted pets,” Aug. 19). 8,911 cats were taken in by the Roanoke, Salem, Franklin, Bedford, Pittsylvania and Henry County animal control pounds, and more than 80 percent were killed.
By contrast, 8,237 dogs were taken in, and 49 percent were killed. Still horrifying, but why the difference in kill rates?
Cats can produce three litters of four or five kittens per year, and the kittens begin reproducing by 5 months of age. There is no way adoption alone can handle the numbers being born unless we all want to care for 50 cats. Where do all of these cats come from? Up to 97 percent of feral and free-roaming cats are not sterilized.
Looking at these same agencies two years later in 2011 (most recent numbers available at vdacs.virginia.gov), 21 percent of the dogs were killed while 75 percent of the cats and kittens were killed.
We are seeing a drop in the numbers of dogs killed thanks to the increase of transfers from pounds to rescue groups. Since there are very limited spaces available for cats and kittens with rescue groups, we will not see a significant reduction of feral and free-roaming cats until Trap-Neuter-Release is widely supported.
The Franklin County Humane Society agrees with other animal welfare agencies such as Barn Cat Buddies and Alley Cat Allies in supporting T-N-R as the humane answer to controlling the outside cat population. We offer low-cost spay/neuter services for outside cats, and provide additional support to sterilize multiple outside cats at our Planned Pethood Clinic.
Feral cats live behind every Dumpster site, grocery store and restaurant. It’s time to stop supporting the failed policy of trapping and killing these cats, and start supporting T-N-R communitywide.
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