Letter writer concerned about Antioch’s ordinance banning feeding of cats

In January, angry animal advocates packed the Antioch City Council Chambers to vehemently object to a ban on feeding community cats on public property and the requirement of a permit for households that own more than five cats. An annual application and fee of $108 is required for multiple pets and includes an agreement to have a home inspection if asked. The City Council delayed implementation and requested that the ordinance be discussed at a future meeting.

I have been told that the item is on the agenda for March 25 and the staff is coming back with the same recommendation with regard to a ban and a pet limit.

As an alternative to a feeding ban which has been ineffective in other communities, HARP and several organizations have proposed a community endorsed Trap/Neuter/Return (T/N/R) program in partnership with the city. No funding is being requested from the city. T/N/R has been going on for ten years. The groups humanely trap the cats, transport them for surgeries and immunizations, and recover them before they are returned to their original spot. Tame cats and kittens are placed for adoption. T/N/R decreases the number of kittens born and keeps the population from exploding.

One of the reasons the situation has gotten out of hand in Antioch is that an overwhelming number of cats and dogs are being abandoned by irresponsible people. This is a community problem and should be addressed. Pet abandonment will not be solved by a feeding ban.

Karen A. Kops, President, Homeless Animals Response Program (HARP)

President, Spay/Neuter Impact Program (SNIP)

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10 Comments to “Letter writer concerned about Antioch’s ordinance banning feeding of cats”

  1. skip says:

    Where is the proof that banishment is the cause? Seems like you’re trying to blame a very small group of people while ignoring the reality behind this problem. Ban or no ban people will continue to feed them. Go to the river downtown and there is always food out. It helps the strays survive and ultimately creates a larger population to deal with. One cat that has been abandoned can quickly create 30. When you have a group of people who claim to love animals support that population, it takes even less time for that 30 to turn into 300. The city shouldn’t be trying to influence human behaviour, they should be more aggressive about trapping and dispatching the strays that are there. This may seem harsh, but it would be better for the cats and the residents. If they leave control of trap and release to outside groups, we’ll continue to see them breed because the same people who want to be responsible for controlling the population are the ones who have created this public health problem to begin with.

    • Marty says:

      That’s neat Skip, how do *neutered* cats quickly breed from 30 to 300? The N in TNR stands for *neuter*. Did you know that?

      You sound like the guy from Steven King’s Apt Pupil. Just kill them? That’s your solution?

      People who aren’t psycopaths look for humane solutions. That’s why they neuter cats instead of killing someone’s former pet. But for the kind of guy that just wants to see cats killed off, it makes no difference that 30 cats don’t turn into 300 when they’re neutered.

      • JD says:

        Neutered or not, stray cats or cats that are allowed to roam by their owners do an incredible amount of damage to the local wildlife and are essentially an invasive species, that shouldn’t be returned to the same spot that they were caught to do further damage.

        Every cat caught should be put down and that is a humane way of dealing with the situation.

        • LT says:

          No,that is the PETA way of dealing with the situation, not the humane way. And you are an invasive species too JD. You do an incredible amount of damage to the local wildlife.

  2. eileen liu says:

    You see the signs on the freeway: “the abandonment or dumping of any animal is a crime punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) or confinement in a county jail of up to six months, or both.” That’s Ca. law. The Pet Dumpers are the ones who have created this problem, Skip. If you see someone dumping cats or dogs, get their license, call the police, be a witness, send them to jail!
    But don’t blame the very people who are trying to solve the problem.

  3. Skip says:

    So because they have signs on the freeway banning abandoned pets, that is proof that abandonment is the cause of Antioch’s wild cat problem? Sorry, but this doesn’t count as proof to me.

    How about pointing me to a study that shows abandonment is higher in Antioch than elsewhere in the county or that the makeup of our cat population includes a higher percentage of domesticated cats vs. wild ones. Better yet, since the volunteers place the tame cats in homes and are legally required to keep records, how about we have them show us the statistics showing how many trapped cats get rehomed (were domestic abandonments) and how many are released back into the wild because they never learned to live with humans? Call me cynical, but something tells me that they rehome a very small percentage and that when they do they are kittens, which were born in the wild and thus caused by over feeding them.

    Antioch’s cat problem isn’t the result of massive numbers of people continuing to dump cats, just take a look at the cats downtown, it’s clear that they’ve never spent a day in their life around people. These are wild animals that have been born and raised in the wild and instead of letting mother nature take it’s course, individuals are intervening by feeding them and allowing the size of the population to swell out of control. Without this support, the population would fall.

    Trying to ban the feeding and watering of cats in Antioch will do just as much good as trying to ban the abandonment of them in the first place. You can’t use the law to try and force people to behave in a certain way, you need to instead look at how their actions are impacting residents and then make an effort to mitigate the problems that come from having so many people in one area. Instead of trying to dictate our behavior down to the level where we’re told whether or not it’s ok to put a bowl of water on the sidewalk in front of our homes, I’d rather see animal control take aggressive action and eliminate this plague from our neighborhood. Trapping and dispatching them may be seen as cruel or mean, but it’s something that the city can do without the council having to vote and would be a lot more humane than using legislative authority to try and starve the animals to death instead.

    • Alex says:

      Don’t neuter them, kill them. Got it.

    • eileen liu says:

      All i meant to say was, Animal Abandonment is illegal and the law is there if you want to use it to report it. I never said “masses of people” are dumping. All I know is what everybody knows – It only takes one single person dumping one un-spayed female, for her to procreate and “turn into 300” -as you said. You say the City can “dispatch” them. I believe you’re right, the City can simply go ahead and exterminate the cats, and I believe they already do. I heard they actually did hire an exterminator to “dispatch” cats at a school. Animal Control already does “dispatch” thousands of stray cats a year.

  4. jewel says:

    Here are some facts that everyone needs to know.

    All feral cat are descendants of unaltered tame domestic cats. Trapping and killing feral cats will cost the city an aerage of $250.00 per cat.

    The city’s budget for our animal shelter has been drastic reduced to the point that our shelter is operating with a skeleton staff and a shortened work week. The shelter has already stated that they will not be trapping any of these cats.

    The purposeful act of starving any animal is considered a violation of state animal cruelty laws.

    Cats are social animals. Unaltered abandoned, lost, homeless and even tame cats, if left to survive on their own, will congregate together and form a social hierarchy or colony of cats. If you remove a cat from this hierarchy, the colony will seek out another cat(s) to fill its spot.

    The life expectancy of feral cats average betweem 3-5 years.

    You want proof? Here ya go!

    San Diego County
    After 4 1/2 years, the SDFCC has been able to sterilize over 7,000 cats. The San Diego County Dept. of Animal Control reports a decrease of almost 50% in cat impounds and Euthanasias since the FCC (Feral Cat Coalition) was formed. Other local shelters report similar declines, sometimes even complaining of a shortage of available kittens for adoption.

    Campus Cat Coalition (University of Texas) 
    This program has been in effect since 1995. They have:
    Trapped/neutered/released 64 adult feral cats;
    Removed / socialized/& rehomed 71 kittens, and Removed / rehomed 14 friendly strays. They have not seen any new litters of kittens in the past 2 years. They are currently at a zero population growth rate.
    Cal Poly Cat Program
    Started in 1992 with approximately 500 cats. The colony is stabilized with around 100 remaining.

    Aggie Feral Cat Alliance of Texas
    In existence for around 21 months, the Aggie’s feral cats number has been reduced by one-third, and no feral kittens have been born for twelve months.

    Who says that feeding bans don’t work?

    Humane Society of the United states (HSUS)

    American Humane Association

    American Association of Feline Practitioners

    American Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (ASPCA)

    Alley Cat Allies (Considered experts in field of Feral Cats)

    Best Friends Society

    PETA – People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (they are now on board with TNR and are against feeding bans)

    Here is a list of some of the cities and countys that have adopted a TNR Ordinance (*) or who have endorsed TNR programs in their area.

    Atlantic County, NJ
    Baltimore County, MD*
    Brevard County, FL*
    Broward County, FL
    Charleston Cnty, SC*
    Collier County, FL*
    Cook County, IL*
    Clark County, NV*
    Fairfax County, VA
    Hamilton County, IN*
    Hillsborough Cnty, FL
    Isle of Wight Cnty, VA*
    Johnson County, IN
    Kern County, CA
    Lake County, CA*
    Lee County, FL
    Maricopa County, AZ
    Marion County, IN*
    McHenry County, IL
    Mendocino County, CA
    Miami-Dade County, FL
    Middlesex County, NJ
    Milwaukee County, WI*
    Orange County, CA
    Palm Beach County, FL
    Sacramento County, CA
    Salt Lake County, UT*
    Santa Clara County, CA
    Santa Cruz Cnty, CA*
    San Mateo Cnty, CA*
    San Francisco Cnty, CA
    Sarasota County, FL*
    Stanislaus County, CA
    Solano County, CA
    Suffolk County, NY
    Orange County, FL
    Orange County, CA
    Ventura County, CA
    Wake County, NC*
    Walton County, GA
    Yolo County, CA
    State of Rhode Island
    State of Delaware

    Albuquerque, NM
    Arlington, TX
    Baltimore, MD*
    Bay Minette, AL
    Bedford, TX
    Belmont, CA*
    Berkeley, CA
    Brisbane, CA*
    Carbondale, CO
    Charleston, WV
    Chico, CA
    Citrus Heights, CA*
    Dallas, TX
    Destin, FL*
    Flagler Beach, FL*
    Holly Hill, FL*
    Foster City, CA
    Glendale, CA*
    Hamilton, NJ*
    Indianapolis, IN*
    Las Vegas, NV*
    Louisville, KY
    Marina, CA*
    Milpitas, CA
    Milwaukee, WI*
    Minneapolis, MN
    Modesto, CA*
    New York City, NY
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Oakland, CA
    Omaha, NE*
    Paradise, CA*
    Petaluma, CA*
    Philadelphia, PA
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Pueblo, CO*
    Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    Redwood City, CA
    Salinas, CA*
    San Jose, CA
    Salt Lake City, UT*
    San Francisco, CA
    Scotts Valley, CA*
    Stanford University*
    St. Paul, MN*
    Washington DC
    West Hollywood, CA
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yuma, AZ

    Studies show that 26% of the population feeds homeless, stray, and feral cats.

    The following statement is from a study conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Threats to Native Birds:

    By far the largest threat to birds is the loss and/or degradation of habitat, followed by:
    Human development
    Agriculture
    Chemical toxins
    Direct exploitation
    Hunting
    Capturing birds for pets

    And finally, if solving the feral cat problem was as easy as implementing a simple feeding ban, then every city in our country would have enacted feeding bans and there wouldn’t be millions of feral cats running around in this country.

    But the truth of the matter is that feeding bans simply don’t work. This is why hundreds of citys and countys across our country are turning to the only solution has proven to successful and that TNR.

    So, you wanted facts, you wanted proof, well I have provided both of these things to you and if you still want to trap and kill cats then you might want to look internally, at your own ethics and reverence for all life here on this planet. The cats are innocent victims of this tragedy and this problem will never be solved unless our community makes an effort to stop pet owners from indiscriminately breeding their animals. In California, all animals adopted from animal shelters and rescue groups, humane societies, and SPCA’s are required to be spayed and neutered. Ninety percentage of the animals that enter our animals shelters have not been spay or neutered. Where do you think these animals are coming from? They are coming from members of your own community who have regard for lives of the animals that are sitting in in the cold steel cages in animal shelters. Instead, they breed their pets solely for the purpose of making money. They don’t spay or neuter the puppies and kittens like professional breeders do, they don’t perform genetic testing like professional breeders do, they don’t guarantee the health of the animals that they sell to the public like professional breeders do, they are not breeding their animals for the purpose of improving the breed itself, like professional breeders do. They breed for greed, for money, and very few, if any, declare this taxable income.

    Our city needs to be proactive not reactive. The only thing that will happen from reactive approaches to these problems is a dramatic increase in euthanasias being performed at our shelter and the city simply cannot afford the cost increase to the shelter budget.

    Our city needs find an effective way to control the population of stray, abandoned, and homeless animals and then they need to develop a plan or enact an ordinance that will prohibit breeding by anyone other than professional registered breeders. That is the only way that our city can get a handle on these problems. Our city will never climb out from underneath this problem unless they stop the source that is feeding animals into the problem.

    We have to find a way to better enforce animal abandonment laws and we have put an end to indiscriminate breeding that is occurring in our community. If you don’t believe me, pick up copy of the latest Penny Saver magazine or go onto Craislist.com and look for yourself. Hundreds of puppies and kittens are being sold and none of these babies are spayed or neutered prior to the transfer of ownership. That is where the problem is and that is where the solution will be found.

  5. angela says:

    No matter what someone is going to be upset. People that do not have animals don’t want the neighbors feeding every cat that walks down the street because then they are using our yards for a litter box and don’t accidently leave your car window down cause they will spray in there. Why should these people that don’t animals have to take their money to rent a trap and their time to catch these cats and take to get fixed or to shelter? They don’t have pets for a reason.. they don’t want to deal with them. I do have pets but it is clear why people are getting irritated with these neighbors that set out half a bag of food every night to feed these strays. If they love these animals so much take them into your home and care for them. If they cannot be cared for then they need to be put down. Dogs cannot run the streets so why should cats.. they do damage just the same. If you want to be the good neighbor, find homes for them or take them to yours to care for them.

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