Legislation Proposed That Would Force All 5 Boroughs To Sterilize Cats

City Council Working On Regulations For Trap-Neuter-Return Policy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tens of thousands of stray cats in New York City could soon be under the control of a spay and neuter program.

The City Council is expected to vote on legislation that would require all five boroughs to begin sterilizing cats, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

It’s difficult to say how many stray cats are on the streets of the city, but the shelters collect thousands each year.

“They’re kind of annoying in our backyard, on our door step,” said Leah Seyburn of Manhattan.

Help could be on the way. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is backing a new bill aimed at getting these unwanted animals under control.

If approved the bill would require the city to open shelters 12 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s up from eight hours a day and only a few days a week.

It would also require people to spay or neuter cats they allow to roam free and rules would be issued by the health commissioner for all five boroughs to take part in trap-neuter-return programs.

That’s an initiative where stray cats are picked up, neutered or spayed and sent back to the streets. That helps control the cat population, yet still allows the animals to poach rats and mice.

The guidelines for trap-neuter-return have not been specified yet, but the City Council expects that to be a bone of contention.

“Look, I think it’s an innovative thing being done in other cities that will reduce the number of unwanted animals on our streets,” Councilwoman Jessica Lappin said.

While some see the program as an alternative to euthanasia, not everyone is convinced it’s best for the animals. PETA spokesperson Ashley Byrne said she believes euthanasia is more humane than trap, spay and return.

“Yes, a quick and painful end is better than dying of rabies or infected puncture wounds or simply freezing to death or overheating,” Byrne said.

Many people have different feelings on trap, spay and return as part of the solution to controlling the cat population.

“I came from Israel and in Israel there are a lot of cats in the streets and they live wonderful, so I think it is a very good idea,” said Sarai Katz of Manhattan.

“I think they need to be off the street. We don’t want them in our backyard, don’t want them following me. They need to be away somewhere else,” Seyburn said.

Betsy Goldman runs a non-profit called “Friends of Animal Rescue.”

“I want people to adopt. We can go do all we can, but it’s like putting our fingers in a dam and not being able to stop the flow. We have to spay and neuter. It’s the only answer, even if it means spay neuter and return,” Goldman said.

Goldman called the potential regulations a step in the right direction for New York City, saying it controls the population yet gives the existing cats a chance to live — even if it means life on the streets.

The bill is scheduled for a City Council hearing in the fall. It also increases the budget for shelters to more than $12 million.

Do you think this is a good idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • kendra

    i think this is also a very good idea cause we have alot of feral cats running around and people not knowing what they have feed them and such which could pose a threat to them or anyone else that come into contact with these strays cause they live out on the streets and you don,t know if they have rabies or anything like that and that could be life threatening to humans.

  • Kathryn

    Most of the homeless cats are in the poor areas, where more people are unable to pay vet costs, so I hope the admin takes that into account with the funding of $12 million.
    Re the PETA comment, Spay/neuter is more humane than euthanasia because the operation leads to cats living more harmoniously together, there is much less combat, and much less roaming, and they become easier to approach if the neighbours want to help them out with camouflaged shelters, food and water (to be put out at the same time daily, for a limited period, to avoid attracting other animals),. Euthanasia, on the other hand, only encourages the untrapped cats to become stronger and mate more vigourously, leading to a complete waste of money.

  • J. Bernstein

    TNR is the only sensible and humane solution to feral colonies. When they are neutered or spayed, the cats are given vaccinations, including rabies. The cats control the rodent population, but can no longer reproduce, gradually reducing the numbers by attrition.

  • debbie

    I always wondered how they could tell which cats had been fixed. I hope they give them rabies shots while they have them. But one thing I do know is that cats do catch rats and mice. That why we have barn cats, they are not pets, but cats that need a home. So we took them, then turn them loose in the barns, they are fixed by the way. If there are no mice, we will feed them, but they have to earn their up keep. They have a roof over their head, food if they want to catch it and if they are sick we take them to the vets. Works for us.

  • Angela

    I think it’s a wonderful idea. I don’t mind taking care of ferrels, but if they are not “fixed”, the population gets out of control. It’s about time.

  • M.A.D


  • M. Nor- Pomarico

    I have been trained in TNR (trap, neuter, release) because we had litters of kittens being born in our yard and they were dying. I provide food and water and set up cat shelters in the winter. So far I’ve trapped 12 cats and we’ve had no litters born so it seems to work. Also, I have a restaurant behind my house and I don’t have rodents anymore. My neighbors however see the cats as a nuisance, peeing and pooping on their properties so there are drawbacks. But to just euthanize the cats seems too cruel.

  • Michael H.

    In my neighborhood we have plenty of stray cats, many of them with clipped ears indicating they’ve been through a fix-and-release program. I’ve never seen a rodent around the neighborhood. The cats are welcome any day of the week.

    • joey from b'hurst

      Cats would rather raid a trash can then hunt down a rat. Feral cats don’t control the rodent population, terrier dogs do.

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