Monday, December 29, 2008

TNR answers and resources

This blog is pretty up front in its philosophy and belief system regarding animal welfare, including that of the humane treatment and management of feral cats. Say what you want about me personally, Anonymous, but you cannot say that I do not try to report facts and that I am not well-informed about animal welfare and its trends in this nation. You can also not say that I am someone who never lifts a finger to help animals in real ways; I spend most of my time off from my real job doing volunteer work for animals.

My last blog posting was filled with rabies facts that I was careful to research. I agree with you that rabies is serious and deadly and should not be taken lightly, but we also need to regard it realistically and from a place that acknowledges the ACTUAL threat it poses in our day and age. That was my point in going over those facts, especially in regard to ferals. Unless you are a sadistic wacko who is out every night cornering and harassing feral cats, the likelihood you'll get bit by one is extremely low. For your own safety, don't mess with feral cats; they don't mess with humans at all.

I am not sure why the recent comments from you keep coming nor why you keep reading this blog and saying your questions are not being answered. I am guessing it is for the same reason that I read everything that I can get my hands on that comes from the Status Quo and Old Guard. It's the old adage of keeping our friends close but our enemies closer. More power to you, Anonymous. I have nothing to hide or apologize for ... after all, this is just a blog!

However, I do not wish to make this a forum for endless argument that gets us nowhere. To answer your questions again regarding TNR--it is the feral colony caretakers that both keep track of the cats in their care as well as their medical records, including the rabies vaccinations. Since you think rabies is such a huge threat in our area via these cats, then it makes sense that homeless cats who are vaccinated and cared for are much less of a public threat than cats who have no caretakers and are not altered nor vaccinated, which is the sad outcome when TNR is against the law--as it is now in our City and County.

Caretakers are also responsible for keeping feeding stations discreet and clean. This includes cleaning up any of these messes to which you refer and being responsible for dispute resolution in the neighborhoods where the cats are trying to coexist peacefully and safely. If there is a true issue that cannot be resolved and the cats have to be relocated--though this should be done as a last resort--that's what barn cat programs are all about. In addition, any kittens that are born are caught and socialized so they can be adopted into loving homes. Again, it is the colony caretakers that handle all of this hard work ... bless all the feral caretakers out there, as far as I'm concerned!

I am not sure what other answers you are seeking, Anonymous. My guess is that you are an AC officer who firmly believes in the current catch and kill policies and how they are now administered. Maybe you have been successful in killing any and all cats in your neighborhood.

But, if you do work in the realm of animal welfare, surely you know that catching and killing cats has NOT been successful in our community nor nationwide. Homeless cats are still there, they are still multiplying, and without proper management, they are making messes, mating/multiplying, fighting, marking, and running around as rabies threats faster than anyone can trap and kill them all. The few that are trapped are sent to the shelter and immediately killed. This has not solved the issue and costs taxpayers a lot of money in traps, AC manpower, and the needless, daily killing that shelter staff are forced to do. Plus, most people in the general public do not wish death on these animals.

Yet, the other side of that coin is that successful TNR programs here on our college campus and across the nation show that managed colonies cause less problems, die off naturally, and that the cats in them live long and healthy lives. In the long run, they cost less in tax dollars and waste of life as well. Any that are accidentally trapped and taken to the shelter are identified by their ear docking/microchip and returned to their colonies; oftentimes, caretakers are called to pick up the cats themselves.

As I said, these are the two options at this point in time for ferals. If anyone can come up with a better solution that is both humane and protects the public, then I will be the first to bow down and kiss that person's feet! In the meantime, we can all make our personal decisions on which road we want to take regarding ferals. Anonymous and anyone else who opposes TNR are free to do so and fight your battle. I am not sure this is the place for it, though. I can assure you that you will not sway myself or others who see this issue differently, and I am posed to fight the battle from the other side of this issue.

As for the wolf-hybrid case, my point was that these animals--like ferals--inhabit a very gray area as well in our nation as pets/wildlife. Even if the City AC department did properly ID this particular dog, Apache, as the one who bit the neighbor, that does not erase my other valid points on how and why I think the case could have been handled differently.

In the confusion over the animal's proper identification as the dog who did the biting and as his status as a wolf-hybrid, I was reporting what the owner told several people who were trying to help her in her hour of need. She was frantic and trying to save her beloved dog's life, as any of us would do in that situation. I do think that before a beloved pet is forced to be put down, it is our AC department's responsibility to ensure that sacrifice is being made for a legitimate reason/threat. I also made it clear that I fully think this particular animal was not a rabies threat nor was it fair to classify him as some uncared-for wild beast.

Dogs bites occur in this nation of ours on a regular basis; in most cases, the bites are not serious nor lead to rabies for the humans involved. Also missing from most bite stories in the media these days is the full and entire circumstances of how and why the bite occurred. Usually, there is an understandable reason, and most of the dogs who bite are not vicious and do not need to be put down.

In this particular case, I was careful to do some research about wolf-hybrids before making my mind up or considering how I might have handled the situation if I did hold a position of power in animal welfare. Unfortunately for all involved, I do not.

My obvious intent with this blog is to call others to action in the area of the lifesaving philosophy and programs I believe in (The No Kill Equation) and which have been developed and implemented by others in our nation since the 1990s. I also want to tell people that as citizens of this community and as taxpayers, we have every right to ask the questions and make comments about how our money is being spent in our animal-welfare systems. These are public services we collectively fund, and we should not be chastised for speaking up, being constructively critical, nor silenced for advocating for that in which we firmly and passionately believe.

You are free to continue posting negative comments, Anonymous, and I will always publish them because I believe any reader of this blog has the right to comment and be heard. But, I do wonder why you are wasting your time reading this blog at all since you come at this subject from the opposite end of the spectrum? No matter ... that is your business and your own time to spend as you wish.

So, I have tried to sincerely and carefully answer your TNR questions and concerns again. I hope that, this time, I have succeeded! If not, as I said yesterday, please take the time to read some of the excellent TNR literature out on the websites of leaders in our nation regarding feral-cat management: Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends Animal Society, SpayUSA ... even many of those powerful Old Guard organizations are pro-TNR now, including the HSUS and ASPCA. That was not always the case.

1 comment:

cambstreasurer said...

Do you know whether anyone has tried using oral rabies vaccination for cat colonies? That would eliminate the problem of trap shyness preventing repeat vaccination.