Some days I am embarrassed to be human, and the last couple days are among them. The South Newton Township, about an hour away from us, has decided to have a professional trapper come in, capture all cats who are in the open on two days in September, and kill them.
The precipitating event involved a preschool child who got bit by a rabid cat, an event that no one wants to have happen. But let’s face it, cats aren’t the only creatures to carry rabies, and the township didn’t decide to go out and trap all the raccoons and other creatures, just the cats. By the sounds of things (and this is conjecture on my part) the township has a problem with feral cats (as do many places) and this event just allowed the powers that be to respond to that concern. They have responded in the most inhumane and ineffective way possible.
Trapping and killing all the cats they can find in two days will not solve the problem for the township. It never does. If somehow they actually captured all the cats (very unlikely) then all they have done is to create an open space for lots of other cats to come inhabit.
TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) programs are so much more effective—from a cost perspective as well as the humanity of it—than what South Newton is planning. That has been proven over and over. Right here in Central Pennsylvania, by the very successful Steelton Community Cat program that in a few short years trapped, neutered, treated (shots and medical care) and returned the feral cats. They now have a shrinking population of cats, and the cats that are there are in better health and being cared for (and they’re not making babies either.). The Steelton program was so successful, and cost-effective, that three other townships, including my own (Derry) have adopted the model and are getting their feral populations under control and healthier.
South Newton’s decision is one of the most appalling I’ve seen in years…very disheartening…and I hope they don’t go forward with it. If you are distressed by this as well, here is a link to a change.org campaign to let South Newton know that this isn’t the way to go.
Breaking news: Alley Cat Allies has offered South Newton Township a free rabies clinic for all township animals if they will rescind their decision to kill all outdoor cats. Let’s hope that the township sees the wisdom in this!