Phillipsburg, NJ signed in a law Tuesday that makes it illegal to feed feral cats without permission. Violators could face up to $2,000 in fines at the discretion of the Municipal Court.
Animal advocates debated this measure earlier, arguing that people should be allowed to help animals in need without fear of repercussions. I agree with the sentiment, but the new law is intended well. Bobbi Santini, founder of the nonprofit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Inc. is on-board and helping to draft contracts between the city and advocates who want to feed the cats. Those who want to support the feral colonies will be required to trap, neuter/spay, and release the cats they feed. It’s a good compromise between the two camps, one that sees the cats as victims, and the other that sees them as pests and disease spreaders. It’s not terrible for the cats, either, as young females have enough trouble finding food for themselves, let alone a litter. Certainly Phillipsburg could have chosen a more violent solution that involved euthanizing the cats; some counties in New Jersey annually gas geese to keep their numbers down, and though I’m sure such action would have met sterner protest, it’s not inconceivable. I’m relieved that the law appears to have all interests in mind, including the animals’. With any luck the TNR program will produce results and the downtrodden cat colonies in the alleys will have less mouths to feed without destructive actions.
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