Seminole commissioners to talk about horse odors and neutering stray cats – Orlando Sentinel
In hopes of reducing the growing number of homeless cats roaming neighborhoods, Seminole County plans to partner with nonprofit animal rescue groups to launch an initiative that will trap, neuter, vaccinate and release stray felines into the community.
The county also plans to crack down on animal hoarders, ban backyard breeding of dogs and cats, and prevent some horse owners from being cited for foul odors, as it updates update its animal control regulations. On Tuesday, the Seminole commissioners are scheduled to speak and likely vote on the proposed ordinance.
Much of the ordinance focuses on the new Trap, Neuter, Vaccination and Release program – commonly known as TNVR – which cat lovers say helps reduce populations of homeless felines, also known as community cats. . Because the neutered cat is returned to its colony and can no longer breed, proponents say that over time the number of feral cats in a neighborhood colony will decrease and eventually disappear.
“We all want fewer community cats,” Cathy Houde, community outreach manager for the nonprofit Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, said at an animal control board meeting in March. “The argument is how do we achieve this goal successfully. We know that the trap, remove, kill method that has been in place for decades does not work. When cats are removed, resources remain and new cats s ‘set up and breed at full capacity. It’s a fight you won’t win; cats are too good at survival and breeding.
But the American Bird Conservancy in Washington, DC and other conservationists say TNVR programs are not effective in controlling feral cat populations or reducing the spread of diseases, such as rabies, in the long term.
They view feral cats as invasive species that kill native animals, like birds, even after they’ve been neutered.
“Wildcats are one of the most damaging invasive species on the planet,” said Grant Sizemore, director of the American Bird Conservancy. “Scientific studies related to the effectiveness of TNVRs have consistently shown that they do not reduce feral cat populations. And these cats continue to kill birds and other wildlife. They continue to spread infectious diseases and they remain a nuisance to the communities where they have been re-abandoned… Cats that have been sterilized and then simply abandon those cats are cruel to the animal.
Sizemore added that a feral cat caught once and vaccinated does not mean lifetime immunization.
“These feral cats aren’t typically trapped every three years for a rabies booster,” he said. “And rabies continues to be a big problem in Florida.”
His organization recommends that Seminole County and other local governments remove feral cats from a neighborhood to an animal shelter or animal rescue organization for adoption or placement in a sanctuary. But “if all of those options are exhausted,” then euthanizing the animal would be a last option, he said.
“It is unacceptable to dump a dog or other unwanted animal into the environment, and it should be unacceptable to dump stray cats,” he said.
A 2020 University of Florida peer-reviewed study showed that TNVR programs administered by local governments across the country did not reduce homeless cat populations as more felines were abandoned and introduced into the home. the colonies of cats that the number captured, sterilized and released. The report at the time estimated more than 30 million abandoned feral cats in the United States.
The Florida Wildlife Commission neither endorses nor opposes trap, neuter, and release, and the agency is primarily “concerned about colonies of cats that directly impact wildlife,” according to its website. .
In drafting the proposed ordinance, county staff checked with other local governments that have launched similar TNVR programs, including Hernando County.
“We want to do things very humanely,” said Alan Harris, chief administrator of the Seminole Office of Emergency Management, which oversees the animal services department. “I wish our shelter was acres and acres and buildings and buildings. Unfortunately we do not have this area.
A homeless cat that has injured a person or damaged property will be trapped and removed and will never be released into the wild or into the community where it was captured, according to the proposed order.
Lisa Goldstein, a Fern Park resident and president of the nonprofit Spay & Neuter Nation, said she was worried about what would happen to this cat after it was captured.
“It could be as simple as offering the resident a deterrent” so a cat doesn’t destroy the property, she said.
The proposed ordinance also limits owners to no more than six dogs and no more than eight cats per household. Otherwise, a pet owner should obtain a county kennel license. The bylaw is intended to prevent a resident from hoarding animals, Harris said.
Residents would also be prohibited from leaving pet food or food bowls outside at night to feed their homeless pets or cats.
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The new ordinance would prohibit backyard breeding, or an owner whose animal produces more than one litter per year to sell for a profit.
It also exempts owners of horses with at least one acre of cited land if their animals “emit foul odors … which disturb the comfort, peace or rest of any reasonable person residing nearby.” The current ordinance only exempts landowners whose properties are zoned for agricultural purposes.
Commissioner Jay Zembower said he wanted to protect a landowner who had long owned a small plot with horses suddenly surrounded by new homes and new neighbors complaining about the smells.
“I’m just trying to bring some common sense,” he said. “Let’s not penalize someone for still living on their land and a new resident comes in and doesn’t like the smell.”
The proposed order does not specify whether owners of Seminole dogs and cats will continue to be required to register their pets. Harris said the county animal control board will likely address the issue in the coming months and issue a recommendation to commissioners.
The county’s licensing mandate, which has been in place since the mid-1970s, is to encourage spay and neuter and reduce rabies infections. But recent county data shows just under 7% of the county’s roughly 200,000 pet owners have licensed their pets.