Middletown Common Council proposes irresponsible animal legislation

At the last Common Council meeting in Middletown a proposal was made and it appears to have been accepted, to prohibit the feeding of stray or feral cats. This ban on the feeding of feral and stray cats, while on the surface appears to address a problem, will actually cause a MUCH larger problem for cats and animals in Middletown. I am sure that the people proposing this feeding prohibition believe that if people do not feed feral and stray cats that the cats will “move on” and will no longer continue to procreate and reside in the neighborhood.

What the author of this amendment is probably unaware of is that THIS METHOD OF CONTROLLING CAT POPULATIONS HAS NEVER, EVER, WORKED.

The ONLY way to decrease stray and feral populations of cats is by TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return).
I wrote a blog on this very issue some time ago and it is called “Feral Cats – Educating Communities“.

“When cats are removed, rodent popu­la­tions explode and increase the spreading of disease. Instead of eradicating a colony and killing cats, steriliza­tion would be the most effective and humane method of control. Roger Tabor adds that, “if a colony is neutered and returned to its area it will continue to hold the location and keep other cats out by its presence. The group’s popu­lation will gradually decline over a few years.”

For example, say you have 25 feral cats in a feral community. If you leave them unchecked, every year every female will have one or two litters and those litters will stay IN the community. They are accepted. They will then have their own litters. And so forth and so on. However if you have 25 cats and you fix them all so no offspring are born – THOSE CATS WILL NOT USUALLY ALLOW STRANGE CATS TO JOIN THEM. So as they die (the average life span of a feral cats is about 5 years old) your community will get smaller and smaller until eventually there are none.

Do you understand the concept of how this works?
Not feeding them will accomplish NOTHING.
Punishing people that feed them will accomplish NOTHING.

Starved cats do not “go away”. They are there because well before someone started feeding them, they found a food source – garbage, rodents, whatever it was. Or good shelter. Or feel it is safe there. That is why they are there to begin with. If you don’t help them with a little food, then they can become sick, ill, diseased, and this malnourished condition also makes them more susceptible to parasitic infestations, such as fleas and roundworms which they will then spread in your neighborhood to your family pets, but this does NOT STOP THEM from breeding. Then you have kittens born. Dying all over the town. Litter after litter. This isn’t good to watch, for visitors to your community to see, and it increases disease and wandering of these animals (where they then spread it).

Feeding them and managing a feral community actually keeps DOWN the number of cats.
WAY DOWN.

People that help feed these communities are actually doing a great service. They use their OWN money to care for and feed them. The healthier cat does not spread disease or wander as far. Taxpayers and communities save money by not ultimately having to trap them all and kill them when it becomes unmanageable. Trapping, euthanizing and disposing of bodies all cost taxpayer money. So does arresting, fining, or taking people to court for feeding them! Individuals feeding them – does NOT cost the community a dime. The city and county should be HELPING with feral management, not hindering it, because in the end it is FAR cheaper to manage such a community than to just keep killing them all.

Also, really – how can you truly enforce this? People who care about animals, aren’t going to simply stop. Are you going to have to pay for police to monitor every area of woods, or garbage area, or backyard communities? Pay for all that time? Arrest little old ladies and fine them and drag them to court? People who care, will find new and innovative ways to keep feeding. And they should. Because they are the ones that are right, and people who want to stop them are the ones that are wrong. Studies prove this over and over and over again. Not feeding them doesn’t help you. It hurts you. Feral cats will survive ANYWAY. This has been proven in deserts and on deserted islands throughout the world where ferals survive without any nearby human habitation. So what are you really accomplishing in your community with feral cat feed banning? Again…nothing. Within a few years, even without feeding them, you will be so overrun with cats that you will be forced to start taking drastic measure, like killing them and then the seniors in that community, their visitors, or anyone living in the area, will be extremely upset and this will cause tremendously bad press.

In addition to this legislation they are also proposing another one that will be discussed at a meeting this Tuesday. This proposed law will REQUIRE renters to get liability insurance on all large dogs. Renters would be required to have a minimum of a $100,000 insurance policy on all dogs weighing over 50 pounds. They claim the law is needed because of the rising number of dog bites. This insurance is expected to cost renters an additional $200-300 a year.

Also an additional insurance requirement would be required for dogs that have already bitten a person. Those dogs would require an additional $50,000-$100,000 policy.

So let’s say your dog is running around with the kids, get’s over excited and “nips” someone. That would be classified as a bite if you go to the emergency room to get it cleaned up and your dog would now require additional insurance if you want to keep that dog. If you don’t, what are your options? You may already be struggling to pay your bills and keep your kids clothed. Now, if you want to keep the family dog, you’ll be forced to fork out another $300 a year.

In a town that is already beleaguered with animal control issues, meaning they basically have none at the moment (maybe in violation of NYS law), what is the town planning on doing with all of the dogs that will be surrendered, abandoned and let loose as a result of renters refusing, or not being able to pay this insurance?

In every single town across America, it has been shown time and time again that mandatory animal laws do not work and in fact result in a massive increase in animals being dumped on the sheltering system. It has failed nationwide. In every city, in every town where it has been enacted.

It has never resulted in less bites. Is that the goal here? Will having insurance result in less bites? No.

Having such laws has not resulted in “better” lawsuits either. What exactly is the purpose of this new law? How will it be enforced? Will police be going to every landlord and demanding to see proof of insurance for their renters? Does it only have to be proven if the dog has bitten? And then what happens if the renter doesn’t have that insurance? Do they then get fined? Kicked out? Their dog confiscated?

Is this a good use of police time, when we are already struggling in Middletown to cover the current budget?
Is this a good use of our court system?

Since we already know it doesn’t work, why would the city even consider it?

Like banning the feeding of feral cats, this law will actually have the OPPOSITE effect.

The only solution to feral and stray cats in managing the community. This is done through feeding, TNR and vetting these animals and in the end this costs the taxpayer and the city FAR less than any of the alternatives. Additionally what can be done about dog bites is strict fines and penalties for owner irresponsibility. Since the town won’t really know if a renter has the insurance until after a bite, why should every owner be penalized if they are responsible and act responsibly in their personal dog ownership? Why aren’t the people that are irresponsible fined heavily and penalized heavily for their irresponsibility?

It is time to stop penalizing and hurting the majority of good dog owners (and good dogs), for the irresponsible few.
It is time to stand up and fight irresponsible animal laws in our community.
It is time to be heard on these issues and to intelligently resolve animal infractions, and not in a way that harms the law abiding citizen and their well behaved pet.

Additionally, we must ask – why are renters being penalized? This law ONLY applies to people renting. That is a bias that also must be addressed. Isn’t isolating one type of person discriminatory and illegal under NYS Law (I’m not a lawyer and don’t know the answer to this but it seems biased to me)? What is the difference between renters, and home owners? This law would unfairly penalize renters and as stated above would result in a massive backlash of abandoned animals in a shelter system that is already bursting at the seams in Middletown.

1st Ward Alderman Joe Masi has stated that public input could change this law. We appreciate that he cares very much what the public has to say on this issue. We are asking for your public input now. We ask that all our readers attend the Common Council and speak out intelligently, politely, and pointedly about these proposed animal laws in our community and also we ask you to email our town councilmen and mayor.

Please email them and politely ask them NOT to pass this proposed law and to also read more information on the detriment of banning the feeding of feral cats.

Full contact for all the members and phone numbers can be found here: http://middletown-ny.com/mayor.htm

Thank you for caring about the animals in your community.
We are eager for the town to hear us on these issues.

It is the rescue community and the public that have the greater knowledge and experience with these issues and our voices need to be heard when they come into our courts.

Please send an email and attend the meeting this Tuesday, April 3.
Meetings are held at the Common Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall at 16 James Street in Middletown at 8:00 PM but please get there early to get a seat and be heard.

Filed in Legislation by kerry on Apr 01, 2012.  There are 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Middletown Common Council proposes irresponsible animal legislation”

  1. Joan Says:

    Hi! I hope the citizens of Middletown can convince the council to use TNR to help the strays and ferals! Starvation is cruel and animal abuse and if that horrible idea is passed then the council should be charged with animal abuse! TNR is THE only way and it helps everyone!

  2. Joan Says:

    As for the dog issue, I agree! The good owners are being penalized by the irresponsibility of bad owners. What would help is strict monitoring of the bad owners and swift punishment of them with fines and jail time, if needed. It always comes down to making sure the bad owners become good owners!

  3. Ginger Cannizzo Says:

    Thank you for sending this information. As I previously stated to our Mayor. As a responsible dog owner renting in the city of Mdtn. I will be attending this meeting to fight this proposed law. The neglect is also the home owners responsibility. They chose to either ignore their tenants and not do the proper reference checks. This is why so many home owners do not accept pets. For those who do then they must do their part on making sure any tenant who has pets is responsible.

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