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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: Ways to handle feral cat populations

  • Re: Letter to editor Nov. 7 by Gloria Crockett.
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  • To the editor:
    Re: Letter to editor Nov. 7 by Gloria Crockett.
    Leavenworth County Humane Society, Inc. sincerely regrets and opposes any incidents of animal cruelty, including when owners do not properly prevent their dogs from harming other animals. Anyone who observes this happening should immediately make a report to law enforcement, so that the incident can be properly investigated and documented, those responsible can be held accountable, and dangerous or aggressive dogs (and people) are not a threat to people or other animals. It is unlawful "for any person to cause, initiate, stage, train or torment any animal for, or permit any fight between any animal and other animal or human." (Leavenworth City Code of Ordinances, Chapter 18, Article IV, Sec 18-121.)
    I cannot speak for how Leavenworth Animal Control operates. Leavenworth Animal Control is a division of the Leavenworth Police Department.
    Leavenworth Animal Control and LCHS, Inc. are two entirely separate entities, with different missions, mandates, resources and authority. LCHS, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity, all volunteer, working from our homes, founded to build and operate a no-kill Community Animal Care Center to serve all of Leavenworth County. Until we accomplish that goal, LCHS helps as many pets and people in as many ways as resources allow.
    There is no "leash law" for cats in Leavenworth. City code or ordinance does not require owners to confine cats unless they are females in heat. Cats do not have to be rabies vaccinated or licensed in Leavenworth.
    It would be best if everyone was a good neighbor and pet owner and kept their pets safely at home.
    There are many cats in Leavenworth who have no owners. They, or their parents or grandparents, somehow became separated from their owners (by accident or by their being abandoned to outdoor life). Some are born to the outdoor life. Many rural neighbors call them barn cats. They are also known as feral cats or community cats. They no longer are socialized to humans. They colonize an area where food, water, and shelter are available. If they are lucky, someone takes on the role of "caregiver" and ensures they have a sheltered, dry place to sleep, food and water. Knowledgeable caregivers also make sure the cats are sterilized and vaccinated against rabies.
    Most clinics "tip" the cat's left ear so anyone can tell at a distance that the cat is sterilized. The process is called trap-neuter-return (TNR). This makes sure the cats are not breeding, but it also helps decrease many of the "nuisance" behaviors that land feral cats in shelters.
    Caregivers take responsibility for making sure an ill or injured cat gets the veterinary care they need. It's great when a caregiver can distinguish between the socialized, lost/stray/abandoned pet cats and the feral ones, finding homes, or an appopriate shelter or rescue for the ones who are suited to being indoor family pets. Often, young kittens from unsterilized members of a colony can be socialized and adopted.
    Page 2 of 2 - TNR is more effective and less expensive than "trap and kill" which is what often happens to feral cats who end up in shelters. Trap and kill may remove cats from an area temporarily, but as long as there is food, water and shelter, other cats (unsterilized ones of unknown vaccination status) will find it and move in. There are humane ways to discourage cats from colonizing an area.
    The experts in TNR is Alley Cat Allies http://www.alleycat.org/, but several other sites and blogs provide great information on caring for feral/community cats. You can see some of those at www.lchsinc.org/programs/trapneuterreturn/caring-for-feral-cats/.
    To learn more about issues in TNR, visit http://www.voxfelina.com/.
    For sterilization, the first option is always an owner's private veterinarian of choice. There are many great veterinary clinics in Leavenworth and surrounding cities.
    If your regular veterinarian is unable to accomodate feral cats, or the number of cats causes a caregiver to seek a lower cost approach, there are many alternatives. HOPE, Inc. is a low-cost spay/neuter clinic right downtown adjacent to the Kansas Country Store.
    They can be reached at 913-651-7335. LCHS, Inc. accepts feral cats on our monthly low-cost spay/neuter transports that rotate among the cities in our county. Email LvnCoHS@ live.com for details. LCHS, Inc. loans traps to caregivers, and can provide other resources to assist in caring for feral/community cats. Other low-cost spay/neuter options are listed on the LCHS, Inc. website at www.lchsinc.org/ resources/spay-and-neuter/.

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