The citizens of Wichita have been exposed to a lot of misinformation about TNR, it’s impacts on wildlife, and the specific TNR proposal that is quietly being whisked through (without review), as well as how TNR will be implemented and what its effects will be on our homes and the larger community. In order to give citizens a clearer picture of what’s happening in Wichita, a metaphor can be useful.
Imagine you start filling a bathtub and a knock on the door takes you away from the tub and keeps you away for 10 minutes. You’ve forgotten about the tub and you’re putting water on to boil for a cup of tea when suddenly you remember the tub is running!
What is the first thing that you do upon entering the bathroom?
Most of us would immediately turn off the faucets and then pull up the drain plug, depending on the height of the water. This is a common sense response to a potentially costly and damaging situation. In this scenario the tub represents the carrying capacity of the city of Wichita, the running water represents the number of cats entering our streets daily and the plug represents efforts to reduce those numbers.
The Wichita Animal Control Advisory Board (or at least the 4 that quite literally pushed this proposal through) would have you believe that all you need do is remove the drain plug and ignore the running water. The ordinance can be found by clicking the green button on the homepage. Please read it and tell me I’m wrong. The story they tell is: simply implement TNR, stop euthanizing cats and these efforts will be sufficient to drain the numbers of unowned cats in a manner they and proponents see as humane. The problem is that it is not possible in Wichita and is unsuccessful in most places that it has been implemented as a stand alone measure.
The current way of reducing unowned cats is not working well largely because of two factors: euthanizing cats reduces community collaboration towards solving the problem and it does nothing to address the problem at its source which is that the carrying capacity of Wichita is being artificially raised by those who leave out food for the cats and there are no limitations on cat ownership thereby cheapening the species and making it a throw away pet. The current proposal fails to address community needs by doing nothing about cat feeding (widening our tub) and cat ownership (keeping the faucets on) and permits a vendor to have unfettered access to cats in Wichita. Pepper is rolling over in his grave.
For TNR to work in Wichita cat feeding outside of an approved cat colony must be made illegal and feeders should pay a hefty fine with possible jail time for repeat offenders. These people are working against a successful TNR and practitioners of TNR should take a strong stand against this behavior by publicly discouraging it. Neighbors should call animal control to notify them or do so anonymously on this site. Instead this proposal wants to legalize all feeding of cats. Friends of Feral Felines is laughing all the way to the bank.
And what of the nasty ‘E’ word? Euthanasia is not ruled out in TNR but it does take a back seat to other measures, which is something we can all applaud. The danger that citizens face with the current proposal is that no guidelines have been set for when a cat will be euthanized. We have seen cats grossly disfigured with wounds and tumors who have avoided a speedy attrition both under the TNR program overseen by Friends of Feral Felines KS and from other states. Here’s a recent article that compiles many reports of unowned cats suffering. The excuses you read for this is that the cats are simply too difficult to catch or that they deserve to have a natural death. The cruelty of that sentiment is almost too much imagine. For a program that manages cat populations and is wanting to manage the Wichita population neither of these excuses should be acceptable. Euthanasia must be an option for a colony cat (or colony) that is causing a significant nuisance, has been exposed to rabies or have significant injuries. Moving the colony or the cat just passes the burden on to another neighbor. This needs to be clearly spelled out in our law as it will be Animal Control’s responsibility to enforce the law and they need to have the ability to do so.
The shortcomings of the current proposal are detailed in other posts and there are a host of articles here, both pro and con, so please avail yourself and ask questions to your City Council member and to those who support this specific ordinance. Unowned animals need YOUR vigilance.