On Thursday, March 26, the Galveston, Texas, city council approved a series of bold ordinances to attempt to reduce feral and nuisance cat issues. Here are the highlights of this program sent out by the subscriber news service after the meeting:
1) All Trapped-Neutered-Returned (TNR) cats will be microchipped.
2) If the TNR cats venture onto property where they are not welcome, the property owner can trap them and insist that they be euthanized at the shelter, even if they are cats that have been Trapped-Neutered-Returned, as they have now become a nuisance.
3) There will be review in two years and independent study of changes by graduate students will be solicited.
4) There is provision to limit feeding stations to non-habitat areas.
5) Daily fines are for cat owners whose cats are trapped and taken in - plus requirement to microchip and license.
The Galveston Daily News report also includes the following provisions:
Prohibition against creating an “attractive environment” for stray cats or dogs by leaving food out food for stray animals.(Fine for violation can be up to $200.)
Endorsement of a citywide trap-neuter-return program, which allows feral cats to be trapped, sterilized and vaccinated, and returned to the same area where they were captured.
REDUCING THE FERAL CAT POPULATION AND ‘NUISANCE CATS’
The goal is to reduce feral cat overpopulation and "nuisance cats,” announced Councilman Craig Brown, who says he has been receiving complaints of feral cats in colonies becoming a nuisance to residents of District 2.
This program is supported by officials at the Galveston Island Humane Society, who stated that last year about 1,600 stray cats were impounded and the shelter is constantly filled to capacity with stray/feral felines.
Feral cats are differentiated from domestic cats under the city’s guidelines and defined as “not socialized and either born wild or becoming wild after being abandoned.”
Feral animals are not generally put up for adoption.
The ordinances originally were considered by the council in January, but the vote was deferred in order to allow adjustments that would address property rights concerns and objections over potential harm to birds and other wildlife on the island.
Galveston Island is on the Texas Gulf Coast, about 50 miles southeast of Houston. The entire island, with the exception of Jamaica Beach, is within the City of Galveston. The island is about 27 miles long and no more than 3 miles wide at its widest point.
Although some critics at the Thursday meeting still doubted the success of the program because of the immensity of the problem, there was a consensus that at least having a program directed to the reduction of the cat overpopulation was better than doing nothing.
Implementation of the new feral cat rules is dependent upon developing “sponsors” for feral cat colonies, the Daily News explains.
Trapped feral cats can be returned to an area only with the permission and support of a sponsor (feeder), who assures that the cats they feed are sterilized and vaccinated. The sponsor is also responsible for removing any cats that are deemed to be a nuisance.
Sponsors could be subject to other rules that are still being developed; such as, limits on how much food they can put out and how many animals they can care for in one colony, officials said.
Residents who do not want feral cats that are on their property returned to that location, can request that the cats are euthanized.
The new rules allow the city to make any stray, domesticated animals which are captured during TNR trapping available for adoption after 72 hours if they do not have a microchip or registration tag. Before they will be released to an adopter, they will be spayed or neutered (with exceptions for animals belonging to breeders and for first-time offenders).
The new rules include a provision for review in two years.
No additional funding was approved for the animal shelter or the animal control department, the Daily News reports.