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OCT 07- OCT 14, 2014

Fate of Feral Cats in Hands of NT Council

By Tony Farina

October 07, 2014

Kim Diana Connolly makes case for feral cats (below) living on Tonawanda Island in North Tonawanda.


The fate of thousands of stray cats may be decided tonight (Oct. 7) at a meeting of the North Tonawanda Common Council when lawmakers will finalize a new cat ordinance that, depending on its final form, will either encourage people to support a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate and Return (TNVR) program already approved in Buffalo and Williamsville, or make the current ordinance even more restrictive, making TVNR all but impossible to practice.

That’s the view of UB Professor Kim Diana Connolly and the SUNY Buffalo Animal Law Pro Bono Project which has made their case to the council to ensure the city adopts a successful and state-of-the-art law.

Connolly, in a communication to the city, said one of the most important aspects for the appropriate care of community cats is encouraging the proper practice of TNVR. Connolly has suggested amendments to the proposed new ordinance that would encourage citizens to voluntarily support TNVR as is now the case in Buffalo and Williamsville.

Connolly says that the current North Tonawanda ordinance that outlaws feeding and maintaining stray community cats is not changed or modified by the proposed new ordinance, making TNVR practically impossible to practice, and that requiring permits with annual fees is “an outmoded approach to community cats” and in some cases will discourage volunteers who serve the community with time and financial commitments to manage community cat populations.

She said the proposed law as currently written would maintain the city’s current financial and staff requirements, thus costing taxpayers more:

“When the city is called to catch a stray cat, hold it for a mandatory five-day holding period, and then euthanize it, it costs more than $100. When volunteers practice TNVR, it costs individuals about $60, but costs the City nothing. With one of our goals being to encourage more residents to practice TNVR, the requirement of permit and annual fees clearly becomes an impediment to that desired outcome. Unlike trapping other animals for personal gain, what would induce volunteers to pay a fee, as well as invest their time and personal money, only to return the cats to the community and continue to provide support for said cats?”

As one veteran animal rights advocate put it, “the new ordinance actually makes things worse, as many good people are already secretly practicing TNVR. Now they will be violating more sections of the ordinance.”

In our Aug. 6 editions, the Niagara Falls Reporter carried a story titled “Tonawanda Island Cats Find Friend in ‘Law-Challenging’ Danielle Coogan.”

The 85-acre island is home to literally thousands of feral cats, and the North Tonawanda homemaker has taken matters into her own hands to trap, feed, neuter, and vaccinate the cats and return them where they were found. She has raised thousands of dollars from volunteers to help deal with the exploding cat population.

Unfortunately, her efforts put her at odds with North Tonawanda’s outdated and hostile cat laws and now she is working with the SUNY Pro Bono Project to get the laws changed. The hostile laws, on the books since 1999, will either become more restrictive or more compassionate when the council takes up the matter tonight.

Supporters are hopeful the North Tonawanda council will see the wisdom of the more compassionate approach but so far North Tonawanda officials have not indicated a willingness to try dealing with the cat problem in a more humane and modern way, as Buffalo and Williamsville have done.

Barbara Carr, the highly regarded executive director of the Erie County SPCA, thanked Buffalo lawmakers for seeing that “compassion and kindness is the way of the future,” in response to their passage of the ordinance crafted by the UB law students and their professor, Kim Connolly.

The ball is now in North Tonawanda’s court.






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©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina