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Press Release

For Immediate Release: JULY 14, 2008
Contact: ELIZABETH PAROWSKI, or 240-482-1984; FRANCIE ISRAELI, or 202-207-1134

Measure would result in policies that kill more cats in animal shelters, group says

BETHESDA, MD — Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s advocate for stray and feral cats, urged the Washington, D.C. City Council to reject proposed measures in a city animal welfare bill that would require cats to be licensed and tagged. The city council is scheduled to vote on the bill on Tuesday, July 15.

“Mandatory cat licensing is a license to kill,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “Licensing laws direct animal control officers to pick up and impound any cat not wearing a collar and tagged – owned or unowned, outdoor or companion. Even licensed companion cats whose collars slip off or break will be at risk for being impounded and killed.

“The institutional killing in our animal pounds and shelters is the leading documented cause of death for cats in the United States,” Robinson said. She noted that in 2004, the D.C. Department of Health reported that 5,900 cats and dogs had been killed in DC shelters, or 70 percent of all animals taken in.

Robinson also noted that the animal welfare legislation’s licensing proposal undermines language in the same bill that would recognize and promote Trap-Neuter-Return for outdoor cats.

Trap-Neuter-Return involves humanely trapping feral and stray cats, bringing them to a veterinarian for spay or neuter and vaccination, and returning feral cats to their outdoor homes. Socialized cats and kittens are put up for adoption. Outdoor cats that have undergone Trap-Neuter-Return are identified by the removal of a small part of the left ear (called an “eartip”). Last year, Alley Cat Allies partnered with the Washington Humane Society to open the National Capital Area Spay and Neuter Clinic, which is equipped to provide low-cost, high-quality spay and neuter to dozens of cats per day. Feral cats from the District are spayed or neutered for free at the clinic.

In a letter to the City Council, Alley Cat Allies notes that a licensing law would have especially dire consequences for outdoor cats, who have no formal “owner” but are often cared for by citizens and neighbors.

“These cats have no one to license them, but they could be impounded and killed for not wearing license tags,” Alley Cat Allies writes.

The letter also points out that Virginia recently considered, and rejected, a cat-licensing provision.


About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their website is