Feral cat trap-neuter-return proposal returning to Lawrence City Commission for review

photo by: AP File Photo/David Gard

In this AP file photo from August 2007, feral cats gather for mealtime at Douglas Memorial Park in Cape May, N.J.

Lawrence city leaders will soon review changes to the city’s animal control ordinance, including a provision that would allow feral cat colonies.

The Lawrence Humane Society proposed changes to the ordinance that would allow for a “trap-neuter-release,” or TNR, program under which cats would be caught, neutered, vaccinated, and then returned to where they were collected and allowed to roam free. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will review the proposed changes to the ordinance.

Currently, Lawrence city code does not allow cats to roam free, and animal control officers address resident complaints and trap stray or feral cats, which are brought to the animal shelter. Meghan Scheibe, the shelter’s interim executive director, previously told the Journal-World that the practices of euthanasia and adoption have not succeeded in reducing the number of strays brought in to the shelter. Scheibe said that a TNR program is the best choice for cats and neighbors and over time it would lower the population of feral cats.

As part of its meeting, the commission will receive survey responses from Lawrence residents regarding a potential TNR program. Last month, the city put out an online survey, via the Lawrence Listens platform, to gather input from the public. The city received about 430 responses to the survey.

Of those responses, about 74 percent said they would be in favor of a TNR program. The survey noted that TNR programs rely heavily on volunteers to help capture and transport cats, and about 67 percent of the respondents said they would be willing to personally participate in such a program or at least call a local agency in Lawrence that participates.

The survey also allowed respondents to leave comments, and the city received about 10 pages of comments. Many of the comments were supportive of such a program, saying that it would eventually help reduce the population of feral cats. However, various comments expressed concern about feral cats killing birds and leaving excrement in vegetable gardens and flowerbeds or otherwise damaging private property. Some comments also said that it is not humane to leave cats outdoors, where they endure cold temperatures and predators such as coyotes and hawks.

Other changes to the animal control ordinance include a registration program for residents who want to have more than four cats or four dogs and a “reckless pet owner” policy. That policy would not allow residents to own an animal for five years if they violated provisions regarding the treatment of animals four or more times within the span of three years. A summary of all the proposed changes to the animal control ordinance is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.

Assistant City Attorney Maria Garcia said in an email to the Journal-World that city staff expects to get direction from the commission regarding the proposed changes, and that the ordinance will return for second reading at an upcoming meeting.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

Related stories

Jan. 17, 2019 — City wants public input on trap-neuter-return for feral cats ahead of City Commission discussion

Dec. 11, 2018 — Discussions about catch and release of feral cat colonies to continue at City Hall

Dec. 10, 2018 — Lawrence Humane Society asks city to allow catch and release of feral cat colonies


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