Trap and Release programs are very important to those of us who are concerned about the occurance of homeless cats in our neighborhoods.
When I first began rescueing cats I brought a group of pregnant strays and ferals home to my new house to give birth.
I went forward with the plan to socialize the newborns and then I would manage a colony as my state law allows me on my property.
All of the adult cats were spayed or neutered and the little ones when they reached the age/weight requirements and then I would start letting them out.
They really enjoyed being outside and I thought it was best for them as someone who always had indoor/outdoor cats.
I came to find out that my neighbors did not like this.
At the same time cats started disappearing and our community newsletter had talk of “coyotes”.
Right, the coyotes grabbed 3 of my cats in one day during daylight hours.
A total of 8 cats disappeared over a period of 3 months. Three dissappeared on the same day and 2 with ID collars disappeared together another time. Everything was fine for awhile and I let a new group out. Then one disappeared right after his one year birthday and another younger one was gone a week later.
So I brought them all back in with the door shut except for a feral mama cat that was spayed and released and there was no way she would show her face again and be retrapped.
It has been a huge mystery what happened to these cats. I have believed the worst and wonder if my HOA was in any way responsible.
Threats from the Homeowners Association
Recently in our community news letter one of the board members had been threatening cat owners and people who feed cats with trapping and having them removed. They threatening people with fines from the HOA if caught feeding strays and ferals. And printing the misinformation that it is against the law in Arizona to feed stray animals punishable by a $2,500.00 fine.
If you are familiar with Arizona law, cats are protected as free roaming animals. And the $2,500.00 fine is consequence of committing the felony of dumping or harming a cat in this state.
I have repeatedly sent my board of directors information about TNR ( Trap and Release) and who to contact as well as simple deterents for our residents who prefer to discourage cats from being in their yards.
No one listened. And the last threat was they were going to call a removal company to trap and dispose of them.
How I responded
I was totally shocked by this and very concerned so I called my local contact from the Animal Defense League of Arizona , our local TNR Program Director for some counseling. She told me there is not much I could do but to tell them that removal services are illegal, expensive and very often the traps are not checked properly and cats have been left and have died in the traps set by these services. My understanding of the law was verified. Unfortunately catching people doing wrong by these cats on the street , no fault of their own, is very difficult. She said just talk to them, give them her number and hope for the best.
I sent another email in regard to my concerns which went unanswered.
Fortunately the next community newsletter enlightened us to the fact that they had a presentation done by someone representing Maricopa County Animal Care and Control and that they would be going forward with a community TNR program. The following week’s newsletter brought a note from the people coordinating this effort.
I spoke to the lady whose number was left to contact to help. I have a Havaheart trap and can donate some canned cat food for bait and some little plastic containers that I use for trapping to put water in the traps as well.
It was great speaking to this lady . She is a new resident in my subdivision. When she saw these threatening notes in the newletter she contacted the relevent people to make the law very clear. She told them that if she ever found out about any action on anyones part to harm any cats that they would be investigated and prosecuted.
Well apparently they took her seriously. So the community is going forward with doing the right thing and going with a TNR program.
I did find out that she had become aware of possible not so humane or ethical dissappearances of cats were not isolated to myself.
This will not bring back my disappeared cats but on the slim chance one they trap is mine I will be sending pictures of the trapped cats and if any do turn out to be ones I lost I will bring them home.