Baltimore Passes New Ordinance to Support Feral Cat Caregivers and TNR


On November 27, 2007 Baltimore’s Mayor Sheila Dixon signed into law changes to the city’s animal control ordinances.

In passing these changes, a copy of which is attached to this article, Baltimore has recognized Trap Neuter Return or TNR as a preferable method of controlling feral cat populations.

The city’s animal control estimates there are  185,000 feral cats in the city. Animal control handled 1,800 calls about feral cats last fiscal year. Animal control handled approximately 6,750 feral cats, said to be enough work to keep two officers busy full time.

 Alley Cat Allies, lobbied for the legislation. Alley Cat Allies President Becky Robinson told the Housing, Health and  Human Services subcommittee, TNR improves the health of feral cats "through vaccination and ongoing management and improves their lives by eliminating the endless cycle of reproduction."

As Alley Cat Allies explained in its testimony to the subcommittee, trapping and killing feral cats does not work to control the populations.  Instead, as studies have shown, over time TNR actually reduces and even eliminates feral cat populations. For a look at some of these studies, visit this site.   Support TNR Not Starvation as a Means to Control Feral Cat Populations.

With TNR it is also hoped the city will be able to reduce incidents of rabies as well as free up animal control officers for other duties.

And polls show a substantial majority of Americans believe feral cats should be allowed to live outside and not euthanized in a shelter. Most animal control agencies and shelters euthanize feral cats, however. In fact, Alley Cat Allies reports as a result 70-73% of all cats entering shelters are killed.  Euthanasia at a public shelter is the number one cause of cat deaths in this country.

To change that, Baltimore has recognized TNR programs under which feral cat caregivers are legally recognized and allowed to maintain colonies of feral cats defined as "a cat that is unsocialized to humans and has a temperament of extreme fear of and resistance to contact with humans". Under the amendments the Health Commissioner is authorized to issue regulations "providing for the approval of programs to trap, alter, vaccinate for rabies and distemper, ear tip and return feral cats"; and "governing the circumstances and procedures under which feral cats are seized, impounded and reclaimed."  Pending issuance of t hose regulations animal control is required to keep feral cats for at least 3 days. Ear clipped feral cats are presumed to be vaccinated.

Feral cat caregivers are excepted from kennel regulations and limits on pets.  

The city also changed the definition of abandoned animal to exclude feral cats. Feral cat caregivers can now trap, spay/neuter, ear clip and return the cats to a colony without worry they will be deemed to have abandoned the cat. 


3 thoughts on “Baltimore Passes New Ordinance to Support Feral Cat Caregivers and TNR”

  1. It’s at the very end of the article where it says attachment and the title of the ordinance. Click on that.

  2. I also don’t see anything that says “attachment” or any reference to the title of the ordinance at the end of the artile. Nor do I see anything I can click on other than the comments. Are we looking at the same page??

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