Animal lovers may want to pay attention to what’s on the committee’s agenda on Tuesday at La Crosse.
Not only cat lovers but those who love the birds and other animals that live naturally in the “wildness” of La Crosse.
The Judiciary and Finance Committee (J&A) will discuss (the agenda) an amendment to a law on “community cats” or free-roaming cats (download PDF here).
J&A meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Southside Neighborhood Center (map) or online here. For those who would like to speak, arrive before the meeting to sign in. If in attendance, contact the city clerk by email here or call 608-789-7510.
City Councilman Chris Woodard is the sponsor of the bill. On Monday in La Crosse Talk PM (at the 20-minute mark), he described that the purpose of the change was primarily to prevent cats from being euthanized through the spay/neuter program.
“The idea behind this was to get to the doorstep of a no-kill shelter,” Woodard said.
Woodard pointed to a site called “Alley Cat Allies” that promotes what’s called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
Basically, if Animal Control or the Humane Society does catch a cat or brings a cat, they will first try to find its owner. But, if it does, it will result in the cat being neutered or spayed, vaccinated, and then having its ear clipped so the public knows the cat has gone through the process, before returning the cat to its whereabouts.
“I know it may have surprised people or they don’t quite understand it, but a lot of thought has gone into this — not just by me but many other people,” Woodard said. “This is a great way to move forward, and the Humane Society is behind it as well.”
Alley Cat Allies says that taking a cat from somewhere in the community and never bringing it back allows other cats to move into that area and “take advantage of available resources.”
What the site does not necessarily address are all those “available resources”. He’s not talking about a bowl of milk and a can of tuna. Cats kill wild animals, especially birds. The site refers to these resources as “shelter, food, and water” and then mentions insects and rodents – which occur naturally. No mention of birds.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that there are 30-40 million community cats in the country. However, this estimate was considered conservative.
Another expert estimated it’s up to 80 million, and that cats kill roughly two animals a week — and feral cats kill, perhaps, three times as many as owned cats.
The phrase “cat community” was mentioned 30 times in the Committee’s agenda item. She didn’t say the word savage once.
Woodard wasn’t clear if every cat captured or brought in would be returned to where it was found, which means that these feral cats that don’t want anything to do with humans will be sent back as well.
“This will be determined by Animal Watch and the Humane Society,” he said.
While HSUS supports TNR, it also advocates bringing cats and keeping them indoors.
Nothing in the law amendment discusses the rules for keeping cats indoors, although this could be a different section entirely.