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Feral cat program in Albuquerque draws lawsuit

The city of Albuquerque faces a lawsuit over its feral cat management.
The city of Albuquerque faces a lawsuit over its feral cat management.
Marc Selinger

The city of Albuquerque is facing a legal challenge over its trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for feral cats.

In a lawsuit filed in Bernalillo County District Court, local animal activist Marcy Britton contends that the TNR program amounts to “abandonment” because the cats are often returned to their outdoor environments without adequate food or shelter. She argues that this practice is cruel and illegal, and that it would be more humane to euthanize the cats. Feral cats are unsocialized to people and are, therefore, unadoptable.

Officials for New Mexico's most populous city declined to comment on the abandonment claim, but they said the TNR program has helped reduce cat euthanasia in city shelters from 58 percent in 2009 to less than 11 percent today.

“The city of Albuquerque will continue to focus on reducing the euthanasia rates of companion animals in the city,” city attorney David Tourek said. “The issue will be fully litigated and we are confident that the court will not order the city to change course.”

In an editorial, the Albuquerque Journal newspaper praised the TNR program and called the lawsuit "frivolous."

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