Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Groups File Emergency Appeal in Court to Save Cats  

No Kill Advocacy Center and Stray Cat Alliance File Emergency Motion in Los Angeles Superior Court to Intervene in Lawsuit Against City Brought by Urban Wildlands and other Groups.

February 18, 2010. Los Angeles, CA.

The No Kill Advocacy Center and Stray Cat Alliance filed an emergency motion in Los Angeles Superior Court today asking the court to allow them to intervene as Defendants in the case of Urban Wildlands Group vs. City of Los Angeles (LASC BS115483).

Urban Wildlands and other groups sued the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Animal Services for attempting to work with community groups and nonprofit organizations whose missions are focused on protection of free-roaming (homeless, stray, and unsocialized “feral”) cats. These programs help reduce the population of free-roaming cats and prevent impounds in the City’s seven animal shelters where thousands of healthy cats and kittens are killed annually.

The plaintiffs claim that stray cats harm the ecosystem by preying on birds. In December, the Superior Court ordered the City of Los Angeles to cease all work with community groups that work to prevent shelter killing of free-roaming cats through the sterilization method known as Trap-Neuter-Return (“TNR”). As a result of the ruling, the City can no longer inform the public about TNR services available in the community. The ruling will result in thousands of cats being needlessly killed at taxpayer expense in City shelters, while doing virtually nothing to stem any perceived loss of bird life.

If the motion to intervene is granted, both No Kill Advocacy Center and Stray Cat Alliance —whose missions include saving the lives of free roaming and feral cats in Los Angeles and other communities—will be able to seek modification and appeal of the court’s order.

“This ruling does nothing to save birds, while threatening to needlessly kill cats at taxpayer expense. We cannot allow this ruling to force the City to turn back the clock on shelter policies to the dark days of ‘catch and kill’ being the official policy,” said Christi Metropole, Executive Director of Stray Cat Alliance. “At the same time, the ruling does not affect the real cause for bird species decline, namely human encroachment, human activities, human pollution and use of toxic pesticides.”

According to Nathan J. Winograd, Director of the national No Kill Advocacy Center, “the court’s broad ruling failed to consider several points of fact and law that we are prepared to present as defendants in the action. We believe that had the court considered these points, it would not have issued this misguided ruling. In fact, parts of the ruling conflict with state law and oversteps the court’s authority over the legislative branch of government.”

Winograd also said that, “Blaming animals who cannot defend themselves gives the environmental groups the appearance of working to find a solution to bird decline, but their opposition to TNR is counterproductive to the cause they claim to represent. An end to information about TNR will cause increases in feral cat populations because when the only option is killing, people will not ask for assistance with these cats. A recent national study found that over 80% of people surveyed consider it more ethical to leave a cat out on the street than to turn the cat over to animal control to be killed. And for those feral cats who do end up at the shelter, their killing is a tragic certainty.”

"We will not allow them (cats) to get killed," said Metropole.

Conservation Groups Win Lawsuit to Halt Program Releasing Feral Cats in Los Angeles

February 24, 2010 – ABC website

A superior court judge has ruled in favor of a coalition of conservation groups, including American Bird Conservancy (ABC), to halt the controversial practice of Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) of feral cats in the City of Los Angeles, pending environmental review.

The court determined that the City and its Department of Animal Services had been “secretly and unofficially” promoting the practice of releasing feral cats to roam free in the city after they have been trapped and neutered or spayed, even though they were obliged by law to first conduct a review of the program under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The plaintiffs in the suit were led by the Urban Wildlands Group, and included ABC, the Endangered Habitats League, Los Angeles Audubon Society, Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society, and Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society.

ABC has been an outspoken opponent of the practice of TNR, which turns cats loose so they can continue to kill birds. Scientists estimate that owned and feral domestic cats are responsible for up to one billion bird deaths each year, perhaps the single largest ongoing cause of avian mortality on the planet.

“Many bird species are already suffering from habitat loss due to urban development, cattle grazing, and agriculture on their breeding and wintering grounds, and face the specter of further habitat loss due to global climate change. Predation by cats could be the final straw that puts some species in danger of extinction. TNR is not a practice that should be officially sanctioned by any local government,” said Darin Schroeder, ABC’s Vice President for Conservation Advocacy. “Studies have repeatedly shown that TNR does not work in reducing the number of feral cats. Instead, well-meaning but misguided volunteers perpetuate the problem. Without total effectiveness in neutering the colony, cats continue to breed. Additionally the colony acts as a dumping ground for unwanted pets, often actually growing over time. TNR is simply not the solution.”

Despite denials by the City that an official TNR program existed, the judge ruled that “implementation of the program is pervasive, albeit informal and unspoken,” and ordered them to halt their actions and complete the necessary environmental reviews.

In June 2005, the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services Commissioners adopted TNR as the “preferred method of dealing with feral cat populations.” Under the CEQA, an analysis of the impacts of the program on the environment should have been completed, but never was. Yet the Department went forward in supporting TNR operations, including discounting spay/neuter operations for TNR cats, helping establish new TNR colonies on city property, and helping promote TNR programs, while refusing to accept feral cats at city animal shelters or issue permits to trap feral cats that were not going to be subsequently released.

The City must now implement the CEQA process, which includes full scientific review, assessment of alternatives, and potential mitigation measures. The public will have the opportunity to engage in the process and ensure an open, science-based approach to the issue of free-roaming cats in Los Angeles.

Comment: TNR of feral cats is a hotly debated topic among animal welfare and birding groups.

Toronto: Trap, Neuter, Return Program (TNR) for Feral Cats

Contact your local rescue groups or humane societies for further information.