Burlington City considers trap-neuter
Burl. City considers program to trap and neuter feral cats
Burlington County Times Pennsylvania - Tue, August 1, 2006
By LAURI SHEIBLEYBURLINGTON CITY — Burlington City is considering joining a program to control feral cats by trapping, vaccinating and neutering them, then releasing them back into the community.
Mayor Darlene Scocca said the city has a problem with feral cats. Feral cats live outdoors but are fed by residents. She said this program could help control the population and prevent the spread of disease.
The program has been controversial in other towns, where critics say colonies of feral cats should not be maintained. They say cats are not meant to live in the wild, and are a danger to native wildlife, especially birds.
Burlington City would be the sixth town in Burlington County to participate in the Burlington County Feral Cat Initiative. Tabernacle veterinarian Dr. Gordon Stull heads the program. It is sponsored by a nonprofit organization based in Matawan.
The group uses grant money to provide the service free to Southampton, Beverly, Tabernacle, Woodland and Shamong.
However, Stull said the grant money would probably not be available to Burlington City or other towns. He said he did not want to stretch the group's resources too thin.
Stull said the group could provide the service at an annual cost of about $7,000 a town. The cost could fluctuate depending on the number of cats, he said.
In the program, colonies of feral cats are trapped and taken to a veterinary clinic. They are vaccinated to prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies, and spayed or neutered to prevent overpopulation.
Veterinarians insert small computer microchips into each cat's neck. The chips contain information about the animal's medical history. The cats are then released back to the colony.
Since the initiative began in 2004, Stull said the group has treated about 500 cats.
The City Council plans to introduce an ordinance at a meeting tonight to join the program. If approved, a public hearing would be scheduled later, followed by a final council vote.
Scocca said she would like Burlington City to be next on the list in case the group obtains more grant money. If no money were available, Scocca said the city could reallocate funds in its animal-control budget to pay for the new program.
Lt. Jim Fine said city residents complain that cats scratch vehicles and leave dead animals in their yards. He said the police department's animal-control officer distributes traps on request, and then takes the captured cats to the county animal shelter in Westampton.
Last year, the city took 167 cats to the animal shelter. Forty-one of those were domestic cats that were turned over by their owners. The other cats were captured throughout the city.