As posted in Florida Today 11-18-2009 Link To the Original Article
Here’s My Opinion–
I’m all for cats, but I think leaving them outdoors in feral cat colonies is ecologically and sanitarily unsound. Watch a cat colony for a year and learn quickly the harsh reality of disease, injury, and death for these supposedly domesticated animals. Top that off with a stiff decline in birds, bunnies, and lizards and then think about; Is it really ethical to leave them there?
By Matt Reed
So, who’s responsible when a feral cat from a nearby “colony” howls all night or does something unpleasant to your property?
Could the responsible party be one of those cat-loving registered volunteers who feed the animals and claim to control feline populations by getting them spayed and neutered?
Yes, says a legal analysis requested by Brevard County Animal Services.
“Brevard County Ordinances defines the term ‘owner’ to include caregivers,” says the September memo from the County Attorney’s office. “In turn, the definition of ‘caregiver’ includes any person who cares for any animal, feral or tame. It is clear that a feral cat colony caregiver is responsible for exercising reasonable care to ensure that the colony does not cause injury to humans, other animals or property.”
Other interesting excerpts:
“Colonies must be appropriate, controlled and registered … Therefore, the county may choose not to return cats to a feral colony if that colony is not properly controlled. Animal Services and Enforcement has the right to immediately seize and remove all, or part, of any colony if the animals are creating a public health concern or a public nuisance.”
“Nuisance means: 1) Disturbing the peace and quiet of any person by … continually barking, howling, crying, screaming or making other bothersome noises. 2) Disturbing the peace of any person by … repeatedly destroying, desecrating or soiling public or private property … or other behavior that interferes with the reasonable use and enjoyment of the property.”
Today, Brevard County has an estimated 1,000 colonies.
The Animal Services Department’s feral-cat program works in partnership with the Space Coast Feline Network. Taxpayers help cover the costs of trapping, neutering and vaccinating captured feral cats, then returning them to registered feral cat colonies.
The county’s Web site for the program says: “A feral cat colony may be registered with the Space Coast Feline Network when a volunteer caregiver can assure that: 1) regular feeding will be maintained throughout the year, 2) adult cats and kittens over 8-weeks of age that can be captured will be neutered and vaccinated, 3) every attempt will be made to remove kittens from the colony before 8-weeks of age for domestication and placement.”
Does all that trapping and “fixing” work? That depends on the source.
A 2003 report by the University of Florida Conservation Clinic, an arm of the UF law school, says: “An enormous and growing population of free-roaming cats exists in Florida, posing a threat to the state’s native animal species, and creating a serious public health concern. Proponents of trap-neuter-release (TNR) and maintenance of cat colonies have been pressing local governments to enact ordinances to permit establishment and registration of cat colonies in local jurisdictions. But TNR and managing large numbers of cats in colonies does not effectively control cat overpopulation.”