In Jefferson, Iowa, after public outrage and pressure from animal welfare organizations, city administrators suspended the city’s practice of trapping and fatally shooting feral cats on Thursday. A city ordinance permitted residents to use traps from the police department to capture the cats. Police officers would pick up the traps, determine if the cats were feral and shoot them.
According to WhotvNews, Jefferson City Councilman Matt Wetrich, stated feral cats can damage the ecosystem by killing millions of birds in the country and defended the idea of shooting cats. The cats shot had been deemed “unadoptable” while other cats had been moved to the animal shelter and made available to new homes.
The city code states officers can “humanely destroy feral cats,” but debate has increased whether shooting cats is humane. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa states the code also says this should not be a routine practice, however the ARL stated the Jefferson police use this method about once a month.
“If it’s their policy that you judge a cat you pick up to be unadoptable, that becomes routine” said Scott Wilson, the ARL’s Animal Welfare Coordinator.
The council argued that boarding cats in shelters and euthanizing them by more humane methods is more expensive than shooting them. The ARL, along with the Animal Protection and Education Charity, asked the city to implement spay, neuter and release programs which have been proven to be more effective.
“If you take the cats out of the community, more cats are going to fill the void; it’s just a natural function. If there’s a good environment for cats, cats are going to come in. Where if you have an existing colony that is not breeding, it’ll keep new cats from entering the colony, but the colony will slowly, over time, die out” said Wilson.
A city review could take 18 months to complete and get the new program operative. For now the city is looking to temporarily house up to 30 cats and raise money for a new shelter.
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