NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Legislation many animal rescuers say would help community cats across New York State awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature in Albany.
Bills AB 2778 and SB 1081 both expand the reach of the state spay and neuter fund to include Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs. Both measures were approved by Albany lawmakers before the 4th of July holiday.
TNR is the humane management of feral and stray cat populations.
“In New York City, there are tens of thousands of feral and stray cats living on the streets, in backyards, on waterfront properties, and other outdoor locations,” according to Kathleen O’Malley, Director of TNR Education for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, which is a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.
“It is a problem because cats are prolific breeders and the population can quickly get out of control,” she told 1010 WINS.
In fact, according to experts, if left unspayed, one female cat and her offspring could produce as many as 400 cats by the end of seven years.
Learn more about TNR in New York City in the latest edition of ‘All For Animals’* from 1010 WINS Anchor Susan Richard:
O’Malley says TNR is not only a humane way to deal with overpopulation of cats and the unwanted behaviors that come from in tact animals, like spraying, yowling, foraging and fighting, it’s also the most effective method of population control.
Part of the problem with the old method of trapping and removing cats, says O’Malley, is the vacuum effect.
“When cats are removed from their territory, new ones come in and start breeding because it’s a habitat,” O’Malley said. “There’s a food source, there’s a shelter source. There’s a reason cats are living their in the first place.”
If signed into law, the pair of bills would allow up to 20 percent of the state’s Animal Population Control Program Fund to go to groups that do TNR. The program is currently funded mostly through a surcharge on dog license fees. As of the publishing of this article, 1010 WINS reached out to the Governor’s office three times for comment and has yet to receive a reply.
While the legislation is supported by major organizations including the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, the ASPCA, HSUS and Alley Cat Allies, it does have its detractors, including PETA, which has argued that feral cats are better off being euthanized, because of the poor quality of life on the street.
O’Malley notes that all TNR’ed cats receive a rabies vaccine and gain health benefits from neutering. Many become part of managed cat colonies, where the animals have outdoor shelter from the cold and rain and are regularly fed and monitored for any health issues.
In New York City, the NYC Feral Cat Initiative offers regular TNR certification courses, as well as courses in socializing feral kittens and bottle feeding unweaned rescued litters in preparation for adoption. She also points out that while feral cats are unsocialized and therefore unadoptable, stray, friendly cats who are picked up as part of the TNR process are generally placed with rescue organizations for adoption.
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