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Keeping Government Out of Cat Extermination

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Maddie's Institute reports that San Jose, CA, went from saving only 28 percent of the cats who came into their shelter in 2009 to saving 83 percent in 2012. Another current living proof example of TNR saving lives.

At the recent Outdoor Cat Conference held in Los Angeles in December, 2012, Jon Cicirelli, the Deputy Director of the City of San Jose Animal Care & Services Department, attributed his community’s success to the implementation of a trap-neuter-return program known as Feral Freedom.

While the shelter used to kill large numbers of cats who were not friendly and couldn’t be adopted into pet homes, Cicirelli said the government “shouldn’t be in the cat extermination business.” Instead, he said, his agency will spay/neuter, vaccinate and ear tip the cats, then supervise a brief recovery period before transferring them to rescue groups for release into appropriate, non-sensitive habitats.

“Unfriendly, stressed cats shouldn’t die in the shelter simply because they can’t be a pet,” he told the audience. It should be noted that feral cats are NOT unfriendly per se. Cats are very intuitive. They know that they don't belong in cages. They hear the other cats desperate cries to get out of their tiny prisons at the animal control where they are taken. They can sense and smell the death in the air. They also perceive man as a threat to their safety and survival, as they should. They are not unfriendly to their feral colony caretakers or the neighbors that feed them and allow them on them on their property. Trust is something that must be built with community cats that are in constant survival mode.

The conference, presented by the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, the Found Animals Foundation and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, included a number of other presentations which can be viewed at the Maddie's Institute website.

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