Best Friends Animal Society Expresses Concerns Over Draft Impact Report on City’s Cats

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Plan for Managing Los Angeles’ Feral Cat Population a Mixed Bag

“We know from experience that feeding bans are very difficult to enforce—criminalizing kindness is bad public policy.” Holly Sizemore, Chief Mission Officer, Best Friends Animal Society

Nearly 10 years after a court-ordered injunction put a stop to the City of Los Angeles’ program for spaying and neutering “community” cats, a critical milestone has been reached in having the program restored. On August 28th, the City’s Bureau of Engineering issued a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) outlining a proposed Citywide Cat Program.

According to the DEIR, the Program would make trap-neuter-return (TNR) the preferred method for dealing with L.A.’s community cats and free up necessary funding for spaying and neutering community cats.

However, although the proposed Program will have L.A. Animal Services working closely with TNR groups to reduce the number of cats on the streets as well as those coming into their six-shelter system, some of its provisions are likely to impede TNR efforts.

Holly Sizemore, Chief Mission Officer for Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization that has worked closely with L.A. Animal Services for many years, explained her organization’s greatest concern:

“We strongly support the goal of the proposed Citywide Cat Program—to humanely reduce the City’s population of community cats. We’ve seen what similar programs have done in other communities and the results are impressive: fewer cats dying in shelters, fewer cats on the streets, and fewer nuisance complaints.”

“Unfortunately, much of the city would become a ‘no-go’ zone for feeding outdoor cats, making it more difficult to target TNR efforts,” explains Sizemore. “We know from experience that feeding bans are very difficult to enforce—criminalizing kindness is bad public policy.”

“Besides, regular feeding is critical to the success of TNR programs,” Sizemore continues. ”Without the feeding, you’re unlikely to capture the cats—which means they’re not being spayed or neutered.”

Under the terms of the injunction, L.A. Animal Services is required to accept all cats and kittens brought to them, something no other shelter system in the state is required to do. “Because of the injunction,” explains Sizemore, “L.A. Animal Services has been forced to deal with a steady increase in their intake of cats and kittens without the ability to address reproduction. If these no-go zones are approved, the situation in many parts of L.A. is likely to go from bad to worse.”

Stray cats already make up the majority of the nearly 22,000 cats entering L.A. Animal Services’ six-shelter system each year. Of those, approximately 3,000 neonatal kittens from LA Animal Services are cared for at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center’s kitten nursery in Mission Hills or through its foster program.

“This year alone, the number of unweaned kittens coming into L.A. Animal Services has increased more than 21 percent,” adds Jennifer Pimentel, Director of Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles. “Our staff and volunteers pull as many as we can, providing around-the-clock care and finding homes for them when the kittens are old enough.”

It’s not a sustainable model, notes Pimentel. “We feel like we’re trying to bail an overflowing bathtub—we need to turn off the tap.”

The DEIR is intended to assist policymakers in weighing the merits of the proposed Program against any environmental risks.

“We worry that the proposed no-go zones will backfire,” says Sizemore. “The environmental impacts associated with spaying and neutering L.A.’s community cats are, if not negligible, more than offset by the numerous well-documented benefits of a robust TNR program.”

For updates on the Citywide Cat Program and how you can help Los Angeles’ community cats, follow Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. In addition to running lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 2,700 animal welfare groups across the country, Best Friends has regional centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters nationwide from an estimated 17 million per year to around 733,000. That means there are still about 2,000 dogs and cats killed every day in shelters, just because they don’t have safe places to call home. We are determined to bring the country to no-kill by the year 2025. Working collaboratively with shelters, rescue groups, other organizations and you, we will end the killing and Save Them All. To check out our community lifesaving dashboard and for more information, visit https://bestfriends.org/.

Join the conversation on https://www.facebook.com/bestfriendsanimalsociety, Twitter (@BestFriends) and Instagram (@BestFriendsAnimalSociety).

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Michelle Sathe
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