Friday, July 26, 2013

City Appoints Feral Cat Colony Opponent to Draft Ordinances

At the last City Council meeting San Angelo City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said he listened to public comments from representatives of two animal service organizations using volunteer labor and dollars to address San Angelo's feral cat problem.  These citizens asked the city to stop actively opposing their Trap-Neuter-Return-Maintain (TNR) efforts to reduce a subset of the feral cat population over time.  They stated their desire to partner with the city on the feral cat problem and asked for Animal Services' heavy handed, intimidation tactics on this issue to cease.

At a followup Animal Services Board meeting the issue arose again.  Several board members volunteered to serve on a subcommittee.  Those in attendance assumed the task would be drafting ordinances that would accommodate TNR programs, leverage knowledge of local animal service organizations and and meet grant funder requirements.

This aim is clearly in doubt with the city's appointment of a member who stated this about feral cats in Animal Service Board meetings:

I see no reason to pass an ordinance because we don’t enforce what have now. And there are no groups stepping up to fix the issue because they can’t afford to

...someone said it’s illegal to feed these cats. Is that true? Because I see people doing that all the’s every, there’s a people problem...maybe by letting people know it’s illegal (to feed cats)?

This doesn’t stop a feral cat from going into my yard and spreading diseases.

There's more than this obvious roadblock appointment.  The city failed to include the only local organization to ever receive a feral cat colony grant, Concho Valley PAWS, formerly the Humane Society of Tom Green County.  The city also left off grant funders whose voice could guide the city to ordinances that would comply with their requirements.

Let's be clear.  The City of San Angelo has been decidedly unfriendly to feral cat colonies for years.  The simple request is to stake out a section of legal territory that would enable feral cat colonies to exist and volunteers' investment be protected from intimidation and harassment.  That's it.

There's no reason to debate Trap and Kill vs. TNR.  The City will continue to operate Trap and Kill in areas not covered by approved colonies.  The issue should be how the city will allow, even support TNR. 

City staff simply took their war on feral cat colonies underground, covered by a veneer of feigned cooperation via appointing an obvious opponent and insisting on an unnecessary evaluation of "alternatives."  If city staff can gunk this subcommittee up long enough, they can declare it a failed effort and blame feral cat colony proponents for "being uncooperative." 

A sole reliance on Trap and Kill is the lay of the land, part of Daniel's bad hand as new City Manager.  It'll remain until leaders demand a modicum of space be granted for TNR. 

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