TNR Program Adopted in Harvey Cedars

Jul 05, 2017

Harvey Cedars recently became the fourth Long Beach Island community to establish a managed care system for feral cats. The borough commission last week introduced an ordinance establishing a trap-neuter-return program, referred to as TNR, under the sponsorship of and in conjunction with the Friends of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter.

In the program, feral and stray cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic to be sterilized and vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. They are then returned to the area where they were captured, and they will be provided with long-term care by a “caretaker” in accordance with the ordinance.

A feral cat is defined as a cat that is not an owned cat and is not socialized to humans. A stray cat is socialized to humans but is not an owned cat.

“The borough has an obligation to effectively and humanely control feral cat populations within its borders,” the ordinance reads. “Therefore, a Trap-Neuter-Return program is hereby created for the purpose of reducing the population of feral cats, which shall benefit and protect the public health, welfare, and safety, and for the further purpose of the humane treatment of feral cats.”

In March 2012, FOSOCAS contracted the Associated Humane Societies to bring their mobile spay/neuter veterinarian van from Newark to Harvey Cedars, where the Friends had trapped 24 feral cats. After the cats had their procedures done, community volunteers took them home for a recovery period before returning them to the areas where they were trapped. The cats were also micro-chipped, given rabies and distemper shots, cleared of parasites and given other veterinarian treatments if needed.

“That program was very successful,” said Borough Clerk Daina Dale. “With this ordinance, we’ll be able to do this on a regular basis and put some structure into it.”

She said the Friends will be working closely with caretakers, which the ordinance defines as any person who regularly provides food and water to a feral cat colony.

Barnegat Light Councilwoman Dottie Reynolds, who is active with FOSOCAS, said her community as well as Long Beach Township and Beach Haven have such ordinances in place. Reynolds said she doubted the group will try another TNR program as was done in 2012.

“That was a major effort,” she said. “But what we will do is if a homeowner reports a feral cat, we can make arrangements to have the cat spayed and neutered. It will also get shots and a microchip before they are returned.”

She said people can call 609-339-9453 to make arrangements for having a feral cat treated.

The Harvey Cedars ordinance says it shall be the responsibility of a caretaker to:

a. Make reasonable efforts to work with the Sponsor to trap all cats in a colony and have all trapped cats sterilized, vaccinated against rabies, microchipped and eartipped by a licensed veterinarian.

b. Provide or arrange for the provision of adequate food and water on a regular basis and make reasonable efforts to ensure adequate shelter for colony cats.

c. In the event kittens are born to a colony cat, the caregiver shall take reasonable steps likely to result in the removal of kittens from the colony after they have been weaned, and the placement of the kittens in homes or foster homes for the purpose of subsequent permanent placement.

d. Make reasonable efforts to work with the Sponsor to resolve any complaints over colony cats managed by the Caretaker.

e. Obtain proper medical attention to any colony cat that appears to require it.

“The TNR process has resulted in a significant reduction of feral cats in every town,” Reynolds said. “Throughout the whole Island, there has been a 75 percent reduction in calls for animal control because the TNR program is very effective. Also, with cats released back to their environment, the rodent population will be reduced.”

— Eric Englund

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