Update Oct. 20: The Petaluma, California city council declined to make any of the suggested changes to its new trap neuter return program.
For more on the city’s new ordinance that some say will unnecessarily and unduly burden cat caregivers, read Animal Law Coalition’s original report below.Â
Original report: The City of Petaluma, California has passed what is described by many as an "onerous" ordinance for feral cats. It is offered as a trap neuter return program.
Under the ordinance only registered, 501c3 or similar non-profits may maintain feral cat colonies.Â Each organization must maintain liability insurance "as specified by the City of Petaluma Risk Management office naming the City of Petaluma and the Petaluma Community Development Commission and their officials, officers, employees, agents, and volunteers as additional Insureds".
Each organization must establish a "colony tracking system and provide an annual report to Petaluma Animal Services. Annual reports shall include colony location, number of current members, new colony members, the number of cats sterilized, the number of cats removed for adoption, and public education efforts".Â
That’s not all.
Every time the organization has a cat sterilized or vaccinated, proof must be provided to Animal Services. Animal Control officers can really inspect all colony records upon demand, simply by claiming there is an "alleged violation of law" or if there is a complaint.
Does Petaluma’s Animal Services keep and provide the taxpayers with such detailed records of animals impounded, sterilized, vaccinated, adopted or fostered, euthanized or killed, and its "public education efforts"?
Also, under this ordinance Animal Services must agree to the proposed "standardized feeding station" and "feeding program".
There is no requirement that Animal Services will work with the feral cat caregivers by returning impounded cats or cats found on someone’s property or in an unauthorized location. There is no requirement that Animal Services must work with feral cat caregivers to resolve complaints, allow them time to relocate or otherwise handle cats that may pose a nuisance. Instead, the ordinance allows Animal Services simply to continue to seize and kill cats they deem a "nuisance" or if they are found in city parks or other designated areas.Â The ordinance almost encourages citizens to sue feral cat caregivers if feeding the cats "adversely affects such person’s property interests". Â
This ordinance plainly discourages TNR, adding unnecessary cost and effort and creating a risk of liability few people can afford. It is not consistent with an Animal Services agency that cares about the lives and health of the animals in the community. This ordinance is more about local government controlling the lives of its citizens.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Go here to find email and phone numbers for the mayor, city attorney and council members. Urge them to adopt a true TNR program that does not over burden feral cat caregivers and which will help control populations of feral cats but do so humanely.