Effingham County looking at ordinance proposal for feral cats

Effingham County looking at ordinance proposal for feral cats

EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Effingham County commissioners may soon approve an ordinance that allows feral cats to be trapped, neutered, and released.

The ordinance still has to go through one more formal reading, but the county says the program is essential to controlling the wild cat population.

Effingham County Animal Shelter Director, Lorna Shelton, says the recently approved ordinance is important in helping to decrease euthanasia among feral cats in the shelter. She says it allows citizens as well as the shelter to legally alter them by ear tipping them, which means they give them a marker saying the cat is part of a colony. It would also give them a rabies vaccination before releasing them.

Shelton says if feral cats aren’t altered, they end up reproducing. She says while many people may think reproducing is a good thing, among feral cats, it could become a case of them becoming overpopulated. She says the trap, neuter, and release program is separate from their “barn cats” or “friendly adoptable cat program.” Although funding is the next step in the process, Shelton says it’s important to have the law in effect first. They are confident the program will help decrease euthanasia as well.

“Just bringing them in and euthanizing them does not stop them from breeding,” Shelton said. “You got somebody from another county that comes in with unfixed animals, and it’s not going to be a cure at all, but you will see over the course of a couple years, you’re going to see a decrease in the cat population, but it’s not going to happen overnight and there’s going to be some kinks, and we’re going to work through those and it will be trial and error. We’re going to try to do the best by the cats - the citizens and the staff at the shelter - because euthanasia isn’t fun for anyone.”

Shelton says there will be a final reading for the ordinance at the end of May. After that, they hope to have the program in place July 1.

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