Tallahassee - FL, A House subcommittee unanimously approved a controversial bill Wednesday that could help clear the way for programs that involve capturing homeless cats, neutering and vaccinating them and then turning them loose. For the past 3 years, Charles and Charlene Hall have been dealing with unwanted feral cats making themselves at home on their property. According to Charlene Hall, "what has happened is the cat population has increased to be 40 or 50 cats and they are inhabiting our yard, they were defecating and spraying. I have asthma and allergies and those were triggers that were compounding those issues."
House Bill 1121 proposes a community cat program called "TNR" which is a non-lethal plan in which healthy, free-roaming, homeless cats are humanely trapped, neutered and released to their original habitat. Denise Lasher, a lobbyist for Best Friends Animal Society says "the communities that have implemented these types of programs have seen a drastic reduction in the number of free-roaming, un-owned cats, some people call feral cats in the community. Jacksonville has been doing this for a number of years and the data out of Jacksonville shows a 10 fold decrease in the number of feral cats that they have had to euthanize."
The Halls agree with parts of the legislation but even if the cats are sterilized, they do not want them returned to their property. Charles Hall says "We should have the right not to have 30 or 40 or 20 cats in our yard if we don't want them in there. I agree with trapping, I agree with neutering, but I do not agree with them releasing them back in the wild."
A goal of the bill is to reduce the over-population of cats by preventing them from reproducing. Lasher says "It does not impede on your private property rights at all, so there's some misunderstanding on exactly what this bill does. It is just another tool in the toolbox if a community wants to implement this type of program."
The bill is currently supported by both Democrats and Republicans and has a few stops left in the House and the Senate before it can make it's way to the floor for a vote.