Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas and its suburbs, has adopted an ordinance allowing managed feral cat colonies.
Good news from a major metroplitan area when the alternative was to trap and kill the cats or euthanize those picked up by animal control. If rescues and caregivers can be found to establish managed feral cat colonies, the county will not trap and kill these cats.
Basically, animal rescues and humane societies will serve as "sponsors", supervisors, of feral cat caregivers. Feral cat caregivers will be required to:
(1) Register the feral cat colony with a sponsor.
(2) Trap, sterilize, vaccinate, and ear tip the cats including new ones that join the colony.
(3) Keep records of the cats including rabies vaccination records and also prepare an annual report for sponsors.
(4) Provide food, water, and, if necessary and feasible, shelter for the colony.
(5) Keep in contact with its sponsor to report any illness, strange behavior or missing feral cats in the colony.
(6) Report any kittens in the colony so they can be trapped after they are weaned and to observe the mother feral cat so she can be trapped after the kittens are trapped.
(7) Acquire written approval of a property owner, or any authorized representative of the owner of any property, if the colony caretaker requires access in order to provide colony care.
The sponsor will address complaints of nuisance reported by animal control. Animal Control will also notify sponsors ofÂ ear tipped cats that are picked up and impounded. Sponsors only have 24 hours to get the cats from the shelter, and the shelter is not required to hold the cats longer than required by the set policy. Cats that are not ear tipped that are impounded may be euthanized – or adopted, if possible.
Sponsors must provide training for caregivers and file annual reports on the colonies with animal control.
Animal control has the right to trap any cat it deems is a public threat to health and safety; if a "licensed veterinarian decides that the cat is too ill or injured or that it has an illness that presents an imminent danger to the public health or safety or to itself, the cat may be humanely euthanized".
Animal control can also order the relocation of colonies that are "hazardous to the health and safety of the public or the feral cat colony". Sponors and caregivers must "[u]se due consideration to prevent feral cat colonies from being maintained on lands managed for wildlife or other natural reserves where the presence of the colony is a proven threat to an endangered species and to attempt to move colonies to safer and more acceptable areas."
Sponsors and feral cat caregivers are not considered "owners" of these animals and are thus exempt from other provisions governing pet owners. Though on the first impoundment of a cat, the sponsors are not required to pay the impoundment fees that owners typically pay to get their animals released from animal control, they are required to pay these charges for subsequent impoundments.
If the caregivers quit or are unable to continue caring for the colony or fail to comply with these provisions, they can be replaced. The same is true for sponsors.
But if noÂ sponsor can be found for a feral cat colony, the cats can be trapped and euthanized. A good reason to try to avoid regulation at all.