To: The New York State House, The New York State Senate, and Governor Andrew Cuomo
Override Governor Cuomo's Veto of Trap-Neuter-Release Program
An act to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to community based initiatives for the purpose of trapping, neutering, vaccinating and returning feral cats to the area from which they were trapped.
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill would authorize up to twenty percent of the animal population control program fund balance to be utilized for grants, to eligible entities working in coordination with community based initiatives, for the purpose of trapping, neutering, vaccinating and
returning feral cats to the area from which they were trapped.
The New York State Animal Population Control Program serves Upstate and Long Island, providing grants to local governments and eligible not-for-profit organizations for low-cost, low-income spay/neuter initiatives and services directly related to such programs. Operated
by the ASPCA at no cost to the state, the APCP funds viable, effective and high-impact programs each year to help communities manage homeless animal populations and serve areas of great need, as well as projects reaching more remote and less served populations.
Unfortunately, the APCP does not provide sufficient authority to award grants for the management of "Trap-Neuter-Return" or "TNR" feral cat programs. As the only proven humane and effective method to manage feral cat colonies, these systems can have enormous value to a
community. At least 15 other state-sponsored animal population control programs - including those in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware - authorize the use of spay/neuter funds to cover the costs of viable TNR programs.
Once considered unconventional, TNR is now generally accepted as a viable and effective population control tool. Successfully practiced in thousands of communities and in every landscape and setting, Trap-Neuter-Return programs humanely trap feral cats - which cannot be
socialized to live with humans safely - and take them to a veterinarian to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped. After recovery, the cats are returned to their colony. Kittens of feral cats
that can be socialized to people may be adopted into homes.
Grounded in science. TNR stops the breeding cycle of feral cats and therefore improves their lives. Historically, the ineffective and costly "catch and kill" approach was used to control feral cat
populations, but history has now demonstrated the futility of attempts to permanently clear an area of cats because of the scientifically-documented phenomenon known as the "vacuum effect." In basic terms, whenever cats are removed, new cats move in to take advantage of the now-available resources (like food and shelter), or the surviving cats left behind breed to capacity. Under TNR, the returned cats act as placeholders, preventing intact cats from moving
into the area. The cats being returned via TNR have significantly reduced nuisance behaviors (spraying, noise from mating and fighting) and are better community neighbors than the intact cats who would otherwise fill that space if there were a vacuum. As a result, there is robust support for TNR both at the grassroots level and within traditional political structures.
This legislation is consistent with the statutory purpose of this program, especially since its reinvention as a grants initiative in 2010. The bill would simply authorize a small percentage of funds available through the APCP each year to be used to support the collaborative work of humane societies, animal welfare organizations and animal shelters with community-based TNR initiatives so they may improve the quality of life for feral cats in a given area, and improve the character of that community for its residents. This in turn supports sound public health policy by proactively reducing the risk of rabies and other zoonotic diseases."
Why is this important?
It is no surprise to anyone that I am "a crazy cat lady". What most people don't know is that I have been in cat rescue for more years than Facebook has been around, or longer than my husband and I have been together. All of the cats we have now are all the product of feral cats breeding - All of them.
I have also been a caretaker for a feral cat colony for the past 8 years. I've laughed and cried over these guys. I've held kittens while they've died in my arms from sickness, and tricked adults into taking medicine when they were sick. I've lost sleep on nights it was frigid during the winter, and have brought toys and catnip so they can play. I've also taken about 100 kittens from there. Not all of their's, mind you. Some were dumped because people figured out that someone is taking care of cats there (there is a BIG apartment complex just above my colony) I even found a litter of 4 that were tied up in a garbage bag and tossed into a dumpster (all 4 live with me now - Chicken, Sadie, Lilly and Monet). I've done this virtually alone because they are considered "nuisance animals", throw-aways, degenerates, disease carriers; I don't have to go on. The saddest thing is.... the original matriarch of the colony was probably an abandoned, not spayed cat from the apartment complex. It wasn't their fault that they have to live this way, and they didn't choose this for themselves.
I also work with a rescue. ALL of the kittens, this year, were a direct result of feral females birthing kittens. In fact, we are at kitten capacity now because of it! We've had to turn away adults because of it - perfectly adoptable adults. The same is true at other rescues. The animal shelters, during kitten season, have to euthanize perfectly adoptable adults because of overpopulation. And guess what? It's going to get worse unless we find a solution, besides euthanasia, that will stop feral cats from breeding.
In NYC "Intakes fell 35 percent, to 18,219 in 2013 from 27,940 in 2009, according to Animal Care and Control of NYC, a nonprofit organization that has a contract with the city to take in rescued animals. Euthanasia numbers (excluding requests from owners) fell 63 percent, to 3,044 in 2013 from 8,122 in 2009." Results.... proactive, not reactive.
The TNR bill that was vetoed was an important tool for us who work with feral cats. This bill, unlike most, would not increase taxes or be a burden to taxpayers. The monies to fund the program would come from the Agricultural and Markets budget. The opposition (mainly PETA and Audubon) says it doesn't work. They opposed it without doing their own research. There have been NUMEROUS studies that show it DOES work! Governor Cuomo couldn't be bothered to even read the bill or do his due diligence before vetoing the bill. He turned a blind eye to a need that is unmet in this state.
NOTHING will change, unless we override this veto. I speak on behalf of the homeless, abandoned and forgotten cats, the ones without voices. Please support this petition.