Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 12, 2015
Killing rats and licensing cats
(by Andrew Dreschel) Talk about calling in the SWAT team. The ever resourceful Coun. Sam Merulla wants to enlist captured feral cats in the city’s growing battle against swarms of rats.
Merulla’s idea is to expand the local SPCA’s program of trapping, neutering and returning stray cats to the street by strategically placing feral colonies in rodential hot spots.
“If you have an abundance of cats in those areas, those mice and rats are dealt with quite efficiently,” he says.
Last year, the SPCA’s trap-neuter-return (TNR) program treated 355 cats deemed unsuitable for adoption. So far this year, 34 cats have also become program alumni.
Widely-practised across North America, TNR is a humane way of managing fast-breeding wild cat populations and reducing euthanasia rates. But Merulla, a member of the SPCA’s board of directors, wants it ramped up and run by the city’s animal control services in partnership with the SPCA.
The idea came to him when the public health department recently identified rat infestations as an emerging priority and service demand during its budget presentation to council.
According to Merulla, it feeds into the motion he’s bringing to Wednesday’s council meeting for a study on licensing cats to promote responsible pet ownership, control overpopulation, and shave big dollars off the tax levy.
Currently, dogs in Hamilton require licensing but not cats. If they were, Merulla says the revenue could be used to grow TNR and other programs aimed at reducing euthanasia as much a humanly possible.
“The No.1 objective and purpose of all this is to hit the same target as Calgary and become one of the lowest kill-rate cities on the entire continent.”
The Hamilton-Burlington SPCA does not kill cats or dogs. That’s done by city-operated Animal Services, where both intake and death rates for cats is vastly higher than for dogs. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)