(Spring 2012)

The following is a copy of a recent email, sent by Pacific Animal Foundation, to the Mayor and Council of every Municipality in
British Columbia.

Dear Mayor and Councillors:

With the recent municipal elections in November 2011, many municipalities in BC have new Mayors and Councillors.  We would like to take this opportunity to provide those new Councils with information on feral cats which are found in every community.  In fact, another name for a feral cat is a “community” cat.   

Re-elected officials may remember our previous two emails (in July 2009 and February 2011), called “Feral Cats in Your Community – What to Do?”   Those emails were sent to every Council in British Columbia to assist them by providing information on feral cats and the very successful, effective practice called “Trap/Neuter/Return” (or TNR).   

Feral cat rescue groups have been practicing TNR in BC since the early 1990’s – 20 years now – and the groups have tried to convey to the general public and municipal officials, that TNR is the ONLY effective practice when dealing with feral (or community) cats.

If TNR were not successful in reducing the numbers of feral cats in a jurisdiction, then new TNR programs would not be springing up all around the USA and Canada.  Like any new concept, it’s usually the grassroots efforts of citizens who pave the way for social improvements for our society.  In this case, the effort of individuals and groups, dedicated to finding ways to compassionately (but effectively) tackle the feline overpopulation challenge, has gained the attention of the lawmakers and boards of directors of animal organizations.  TNR is now starting to become mainstream and the archaic practices of “trap and kill”, written into city and municipal codes in the 1940’s and 1950’s are being updated.  More and more, the public is demanding that healthy but unadoptable animals not be killed for attempted control purposes. 

An acknowledgement of this concerned public attitude is reflected by many US and Canadian municipalities changing their department name from “Animal Control” to “Animal Care and Protective Control”. 

Whether or not “welfare” is a priority for your municipal council, the business case for TNR is overwhelmingly the smartest move.  Every municipality in the country is looking for ways to reduce costs and animal control budgets can provide that reduction if the right programs are in place. 

By implementing a municipal long term Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) program for feral cats, the investment will pay off in the form of significantly reduced numbers of kittens being born on the street and surrendered to pounds.  That, in turn, will be reflected two ways - lower animal control costs for the municipality, and stopping future numbers from increasing exponentially to populate the municipality and/or enter the shelter system.  TNR halts the numbers and reduces them, and it is humane.  Please see following link: 

Lowering Your Animal Control Costs 

In fact, progressive communities are embracing rescue groups in their jurisdictions and working with them to reduce feline overpopulation.  In addition to supporting TNR and working with feral cat rescue groups, the following code updates are from the City of Jacksonville, Florida:  Please see following link: 

Other Progressive Code Updates

  • no hold on feral animals – (cats can be transferred immediately to feral groups)

  •  if no traceable ID on impounded tame cat, then the cat may be sterilized immediately upon intake (while in possession of animal control) and placed in adoption area as soon as 2 days after impound (but still have 6 day required hold)

  •  small kittens or puppies (less than 6 months old and requiring maternal care) have no required hold (so they can be immediately transferred to rescue groups.

Statistics for reducing shelter numbers by using TNR are available all over the internet, and our group is happy to provide the numbers for our own North Vancouver District municipality (approx. 90,000 residents).   Please see following links: 

District of North Vancouver stats – 2009 and 2010; and

District of North Vancouver stats - 2011 

Spaying and neutering the feral cats is the primary and most important issue.  Any official obstacles such as colony registration, caregiver contracts, or feral feeding bans, should be removed to streamline the process.  Return of the cats to their original colonies is highly recommended over relocation which can slow down and hamper the Trap/Neuter/Return project. 

Sanctuaries for feral cats are not a viable option.   Sanctuaries are expensive to run, are usually filled to capacity very quickly, and, often because they are at maximum capacity, animal welfare standards can be compromised.  

Feral groups in BC have provided the information and leadership to communities with their expertise, gained from 20 years of the hands-on street trapping and monitoring feral colonies.  The groups almost single-handedly have worked on reducing the numbers of feral kittens and have given a better quality life to those adult feral cats that have chosen the outdoors as their home.

In the process, caregivers have been threatened, intimidated and harassed although they are actually providing their community with the solution to overpopulation.  Conversely, bylaw officers have also experienced difficulties when trying to enforce (archaic, ineffective) municipal laws.  Feral feeding bans do not work and are counter-productive to reducing feline overpopulation.  Please see following link: 

Feral Feeding Bans Do Not Work 

It is time municipal officials recognize the contribution of feral cat rescue groups and caregivers and invite them to work with municipal officials in mapping a TNR strategy for their jurisdiction and finding ways to fund TNR through the municipal animal control budget.  The groups have carried the financial burden for whole communities and it is not their sole responsibility to do so.  It is the whole community’s responsibility and there are also various community businesses that should be joining in that effort.  Please see following link: 

Primary Goal For Community 

An outstanding Canadian example of developing a feral cat management plan is the City of London, Ontario.  Two years ago when I was speaking with Mr. Oke, (City of London), he advised me that 7 TNR pilot projects had been funded and that, when the City asked for assistance from local veterinarians, they were overwhelmed with offers of discounted fees to assist the City in its feral TNR projects.  One veterinarian offered to open his clinic on Sundays specifically for feral TNR.  Please see the link below:

City of London, Ontario - Animal Services - Feral Cats

Our common goal is to reduce the number of free-roaming feral cats.  We need to do this humanely and with fiscal responsibility.  The sooner municipalities embrace and implement TNR with broad community support, the faster the numbers will come down and nuisance calls and overflowing shelters will be a thing of the past.   Public support will be easier to obtain if your community is not attempting to control through killing.  

“Strategies for saving feral cats (and their offspring, who can make up the bulk of the kitten population in shelters) cannot rely solely on aggressive adoption programs or strategies appropriate for adoptable and treatable pets.  TNR is not only humane; it is the most effective way to reduce the number of homeless cats.”*

(*Source: “Building a No-Kill Community” by Nathan Winograd)
Former Director, Dept. of Advocacy, San Francisco SPCA

Any cost-effective solution to tackle the cat overpopulation challenge in your jurisdiction MUST include a TNR program for feral cats.  

We hope the information in this email is helpful to your Council.  Please feel free to contact us, if you have questions.   Thank you for your time.


Lana Simon, Director
Pacific Animal Foundation

cc.  All B.C. Mayors and Councils