Humane Society Needs Public’s Help to Restore Spay/Neuter Voucher Funding
Saturday February 25th, 2012
Posted at 11:15am
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The Windsor Essex Humane Society is appealing to the public for support as a project designed in 2011 to assist low income families with free spay/neuter vouchers has had its funding axed from the 2012 proposed City of Windsor Budget.
From the Humane Society:
In August 2011, after years of discussion with the City of Windsor about the need for the municipality to take proactive measures to deal with the cat overpopulation crisis, Council approved a voucher program which would provide 1,000 vouchers in the amount of $75 to low income residents to help spay or neuter their cats, and also to residents wanting to trap, neuter, and return (TNR) feral cats in the City. This program was to be included in the 2012 budget. Sadly, the 2012 draft budget recently released by the City has eliminated this program entirely before it even began. This is a grave disappointment for those of us at the Humane Society because we are the ones on the front line of the cat overpopulation crisis in our community. It’s easy for City Councillors to ignore their responsibility to address the number of both stray and feral cats in our community – they don’t have to face that reality every day as we do.
Although the cat overpopulation issue is much broader than just “feral” cats (only seven percent of the cats the Humane Society takes in each year are feral), feral cats are the most visible sign of the overpopulation to the average person. Trap, neuter, return (TNR) has been found to be a very effective way to reduce the numbers of feral cats, and reduce the nuisance behaviours that can make them unwelcome neighbours. However, TNR doesn’t get to the source of the overpopulation – the source of the feral cats are the thousands of kittens in our community born every year because the people who “owned” the parents couldn’t afford to get them spayed or neutered. As a result, their cats have kittens, and some of them find homes, some come to us, and a large number are just released when they grow out of the kitten stage because their owners can’t find homes for them and they join the feral population. In most areas with a large scale TNR program it is the municipality that is leading it. Humane Societies and other private groups do their part, but large scale programs are a municipal responsibility. One nearby example is the City of London. The municipality for several years has been providing low income residents with vouchers to have their cat spayed or neutered, and also offering vouchers to residents who are fixing feral cat colonies. The entire cost of these surgeries is covered by the municipality. When comparing the number of stray cats in each municipality (despite the fact that London has a larger population) – in 2011 we took in more than 4,000 stray cats found by residents of the City of Windsor. City of London residents delivered less than half that many to their municipal animal control service in 2011. This is powerful evidence that action by a municipality trying to address the issue, in addition to efforts by humane organizations and residents, does make a difference.
There is still time to change this decision. The City’s 2012 budget isn’t scheduled for final approval until March 5. If you are concerned about the overpopulation of cats in our community and believe that it’s finally time for the municipality to step up and do their part, please call your Councillor today and ask them to support the voucher program as originally proposed.
The Humane Society letter urges citizens to contact their local City Councillor.