TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the agriculture and markets law, in
relation to community based initiatives for the purpose of trapping,
neutering, vaccinating and returning feral cats to the area from which
they were trapped
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill would authorize up to twenty percent of the animal
population control program fund balance to be utilized for grants, to
eligible entities working in coordination with community based
initiatives, for the purpose of trapping, neutering, vaccinating and
returning feral cats to the area from which they were trapped.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends subdivision 1 of section 117a of the agricultural and
markets law, as amended by section 11 of part T of chapter 59 of the
laws of 2010, by adding a new subdivision 10 which would authorize
twenty percent of the Animal Population Control Program fund balance
annually for grants to eligible entities, in coordination with
community-based initiatives, for the purpose of trapping, neutering,
vaccinating and returning, to the area from which they were trapped,
feral cats as defined by the environmental conservation law.
Section 2 provides that such provisions shall not apply to
community-based initiatives operated in coordination with an eligible
entity as defined in subdivision eight of this section, which allows
entities that do not have a county animal population control program
to apply for funds from the Animal Population Control Program fund for
the sole purpose of providing low-cost spay and neuter services in
their service area.
Section 3 provides the effective date.
The New York State Animal Population Control Program serves Upstate
and Long Island, providing grants to local governments and eligible
not-for-profit organizations for low-cost, low-income spay/neuter
initiatives and services directly related to such programs. Operated
by the ASPCA at no cost to the state, the APCP funds viable, effective
and high-impact programs each year to help communities manage homeless
animal populations and serve areas of great need, as well as projects
reaching more remote and less served populations.
Unfortunately, the APCP does not provide sufficient authority to award
grants for the management of "Trap-Neuter-Return" or "TNR" feral cat
programs. As the only proven humane and effective method to manage
feral cat colonies, these systems can have enormous value to a
community. At least 15 other state-sponsored animal population control
programs - including those in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
and Delaware - authorize the use of spay/neuter funds to cover the
costs of viable TNR programs.
Once considered unconventional, TNR is now generally accepted as a
viable and effective population control tool. Successfully practiced
in thousands of communities and in every landscape and setting,
Trap-Neuter-Return programs humanely trap feral cats - which cannot be
socialized to live with humans safely - and take them to a
veterinarian to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped. After
recovery, the cats are returned to their colony. Kittens of feral cats
that can be socialized to people may be adopted into homes.
Grounded in science, TNR stops the breeding cycle of feral cats and
therefore improves their lives. Historically, the ineffective and
costly "catch and kill" approach was used to control feral cat
populations, but history has now demonstrated the futility of attempts
to permanently clear an area of cats because of the
scientifically-documented phenomenon known as the "vacuum effect." In
basic terms, whenever cats are removed, new cats move in to take
advantage of the now-available resources (like food and shelter), or
the surviving cats left behind breed to capacity. Under TNR, the
returned cats act as placeholders, preventing intact cats from moving
into the area. The cats being returned via TNR have significantly
reduced nuisance behaviors (spraying, noise from mating and fighting)
and are better community neighbors than the intact cats who would
otherwise fill that space if there were a vacuum. As a result, there
is robust support for TNR both at the grassroots level and within
traditional political structures.
This legislation is consistent with the statutory purpose of this
program, especially since its reinvention as a grants initiative in
2010. The bill would simply authorize a small percentage of funds
available through the APCP each year to be used to support the
collaborative work of humane societies, animal welfare organizations
and animal shelters with community-based TNR initiatives so they may
improve the quality of life for feral cats in a given area, and
improve the character of that community for its residents. This in
turn supports sound public health policy by proactively reducing the
risk of rabies and other zoonotic diseases."
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
Twenty percent of the Animal Population Control Program fund balance
will be allocated for the purposes of awarding grants for the
management of "TrapNeuter-Return" or "TNR" feral cat programs.
This act shall take effect immediately.