New ordinance deals with feral cat problem

Nearly 7,000 feral cats were brought into Animal Care and Control in 2013.
Nearly 7,000 feral cats were brought into Animal Care and Control in 2013.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – City Council voted Tuesday on an ordinance that would help reduce the population of feral cats in Fort Wayne without using euthanasia. It will be called the Community Cat program. It’s a partnership between Animal Care and Control, Hope for Animals, and the SPCA, and it’s designed to be a mutually beneficial situation for neighborhoods as well as the cats.

Animal Care and Control officers said there are a high number of stray and feral cats in Fort Wayne that get turned in because people don’t properly identify their cats with ID tags and microchips, so they can’t be returned to the owner, or the cats are natural free-roamers.

“Unfortunately with cats because there are an abundance of cats and not enough forever homes for these cats or because they’re just not socially acceptable as far as behaviorally speaking, we just cant place them all,” Amy Jo Sites, the Deputy Director of Allen County’s Animal Care and Control, said.

When cats are brought in to the organization, they can be held for three days before being adopted or euthanized. In 2013, Animal Care and Control took in 6,992  cats and have euthanized 5,537. However, this program will ensure that that number dwindles. Hope for Animals will spay, neuter, ear-tip and microchip the cats.Then, the organization will relocate the cats back to the area where they came from which had been a problem in the past. With the program, the cats will go back to their familiar environment and eventually die-off from attrition.

“The reason why the trap program that we have currently doesn’t work is because other cats move into the area where we just took cats out of, and the cycle continues,” Sites said.

However, there will still be help for people who find these cats bothersome.

“Animal care and control will still have a law enforcement arm, and we will have the ability to remove those cats that are causing nuisances,” Sites said.

Indianapolis and other cities around the state have had a similar program for close to a decade. Allen County Animal Care and Control officers said they are trying to catch up to those cities. The program wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything because it will be funded by grants. In fact, it will probably save tax payers money over time because the need for euthanasia will decline.

For cat owners who are worried about their cat accidentally being placed in this program, Animal Care and Control officers said they will be working with cat owners to make sure that doesn’t happen.

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