Michael is a very special cat. All cats are special, but this soft and handsome three-year-old heart-throb exemplifies a very remarkable, urgent, and extremely important tale about humanity and the law.
Universally, it means the free-roaming community cats of a colony will not continue to proliferate and their population will diminish humanely over time. It designates that during spay-neuter they were given a rabies and distemper shot to protect them against disease.
In Michael’s case, it means someone recognized that he was very well socialized and able to be placed in a rescue for adoption.
Socialized cats like Michael may have ended up in a free-roaming community cat colony because they got lost or ditched by a caregiver. This signifies the need for animal shelters and rescues to continue teaching caregiver responsibility and aiding caregivers in rehoming cats responsibly.
The unsocialized make-up of a free-roaming community cat colony, those who will continue to live outdoors, deserve everyone's help through educating the public on peaceful coexistence with free-roaming community cats and the implementation of trap-neuter-return.
The alternatives to trap-neuter-return are not humane: Doing nothing and ignoring free-roaming community cat populations, solves nothing. Doing nothing and portraying free-roaming community cats as wicked and threatening, only inspires misinformation and possible violence as in documented cases of poisonings and shootings.
The recently released advisory opinion by the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia endorses trap-neuter-return. Alley Cat Allies’ (the nation’s leading expert in humane trap-neuter-return) analysis of that opinion is that existing trap-neuter-return programs in Virginia fully comply with Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws.
We can and need to do more by enhancing the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws, so animal control officers, counties, and cities can fully participate in all aspects of humane trap-neuter-return.
Since the inception of the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Workgroup, Companion Animal Law Attorney Heidi Meinzer, of the Law Office of Heidi Meinzer, PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia, has participated extensively in examining the language of the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws and workgroup discussions regarding free-roaming community cats and trap-neuter-return.
Meinzer, who supports revision of the language in the law, states, “Changing the language of the law does not force participation in trap-neuter-return. We are not forcing anyone to practice trap-neuter-return. We want to clarify the law, so those who are not allowed by law and want to engage in trap-neuter-return can do so legally without ramification.”
Attorney Will Gomaa, Law and Policy Associate Director at Alley Cat Allies, explains that Virginia law completely allows individuals and non-profits to implement trap-neuter-return. “The critical issue is the role of animal control officers.”
Under Virginia law, animal control officers can legally trap and spay-neuter free-roaming community cats, but cannot legally return free-roaming community cats to their outdoor colonies. Their only options are return-to-owner, adoption, transfer to another facility, or euthanasia.
On September 5, 2013, the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Workgroup will meet from 10am to 4pm in House Room 3 of the Virginia State Capitol.
If a consensus to improve trap-neuter-return laws in Virginia is reached, the Virginia General Assembly could vote to allow localities, through its animal control officers or other government personnel, to implement trap-neuter-return as early as the 2014 session.
If not, free-roaming community cats might have to wait until 2015.
Animal shelters, rescues, individuals, entire communities, animal control officers, and those in the veterinary field have a voice and a choice between inhumanity and humanity.
Act now! All trap-neuter-return supporters throughout Virginia are encouraged to attend the September 5, 2013 meeting. If you are unable to attend:
Click here to email your letter of support of trap-neuter-return directly to the Virginia State Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Kovich, DVM, MPH and Virginia Federation of Humane Societies President, Debra Griggs.
...and click here to meet Michael! He is currently enjoying a free-roaming life indoors, playing, eating, sleeping, climbing, and cuddling with humans and other cats around the clock at King Street Cats in Alexandria, Virginia until he finds a forever family.