Establishing a Fund to Care For Community Cats

Establishing a Fund to Care For Community Cats

***UPDATE: On 11/30, S179 was moved to “For Discussion Only”, along with two other pet-related bills (one relating to Pet Groomer licensing, and another that would ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores). “For Discussion Only” means that the committee will talk about these bills, but won’t vote on whether or not to release them yet. It could be that the sponsor intends to make some amendments. It’s still worth submitting comments to the Committee if you support S179, and if you have any suggestions on how to make it better, feel free to say that, too.***

There’s a bill up for consideration next week in the Senate Economic Growth Committee that would greatly benefit animal rescue groups who care for Community (aka stray or feral) Cats, especially those who manage Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs for population control. S179 sponsored by Senator Brian Stack establishes a Compassion for Community Cats Fund, which would provide funding grants to municipalities and counties in New Jersey to “establish programs to humanely trap community cats, sterilize, ear-tip, vaccinate against rabies, and return each community cat to the location where the community cat was trapped.”

S179 also requires animal rescue organizations and shelters to ensure that no cat is released for adoption unless they’ve been spayed or neutered, with a few common sense exceptions (for cats who are less than two months old, or if there are health reasons that make the surgery risky, or if the cat is being transferred to a temporary placement such as a foster home or other animal rescue organization).

The bill also makes it clear that anyone who cares for “community cats” (a cat with no known owner who lives outdoors) is not considered the “owner” of the cat, which is a helpful provision for volunteers and good samaritans who care for strays and/or maintain cat colonies, but don’t want to be subjected to the legal liabilities associated with pet ownership. The bill would also allow the Department of Health Commissioner to contract with registered 501c3 animal rescue organizations to administer the Animal Population Control Program described in the bill–a funding boost that would help these often cash-strapped organizations to keep their programs going.

There are many benefits to TNR programs, including:

  • Longer, healthier lives for the cats
  • Increased safety due to vaccination against rabies, and stray cats help control rodent populations that can spread germs and disease
  • Reduces unwanted behaviors like spraying, fighting, roaming, etc.
  • Relieves the burden and stress associated with repeated pregnancies
  • Proven effective at controlling and reducing the number of stray cats
  • A more humane and cost effective solution than euthanasia

If you would like to express support for S179, here’s what you can do:

  • Email Senator Brian Stack to thank him for his sponsorship and express your support:
  • Email the Senate Economic Growth Committee (*before December 4th) to state your support for S179:
  • If you’re a resident of New Jersey, contact your State Senator and Assembly representatives, and urge them to support S179 and its Assembly version, A2275. You can look up their contact information by entering your address at this link to find your District, then click on See District Details: Once you’ve reached the page for your district, you can call their offices or click on Contact Your Legislator to email all of them at once.

I think this is great piece of legislation and I hope it moves quickly towards final passage. I’ll be posting updates as it moves through the legislative process.

If you are interested in supporting animal rescue efforts in New Jersey, I highly recommend Cat Crew Rescue, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to cat rescue and TNR. You can learn more about CCR and make a tax-deductible donation HERE.

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