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Setting up a Meeting to Discuss a Cat-Related Issue
When caring for cats, there’s always the possibility that you’ll have to resolve an issue that people are having with cats living outdoors. You might have to come face-to-face with animal control, property management, or members of your own community who think the best way to deal with cats is to remove them. But you know better–and there are plenty of techniques you can use to protect the cats and enlighten people on the benefits of Trap-Neuter-Return.
Often times, the best way to mediate these situations is to set up a meeting with those involved to discuss the issue and come to a reasonable agreement that benefits both sides. To ensure that you’re successful in resolving any issue, here are some steps to help you set up an official meeting:
- Gather background information. Get all the appropriate information so you’re clear on what the issue is and how to resolve it. You need to find out who’s making the complaint or threat, who’s directly affected by the issue, where and when the situation occurred, and why it happened.
- Identify any decision makers. You’ll need to identify whom, such as animal control officers or elected officials, makes decisions that affect cats, and familiarize yourself with the laws and policies of the agencies they’re affiliated with. Get this info through their website or contact their agency directly. You’ll learn how to best use their laws and policies to your advantage in advocating on behalf of cats.
- Request a meeting. Set up a meeting with the parties involved to hear out all concerns and perspectives. Send an official request by letter to each person you want to meet with asking to get together to discuss the issue that’s affecting community cats. If you don’t receive a response, follow up with a phone call. If the situation involves a property manager or animal control officer who wants to trap and remove cats from a specific location, you can also ask for a moratorium on the trapping or an extension on the deadline to remove cats until after your meeting.
- Document your efforts. Be sure to keep track of everything you do. Document whom you spoke to, when you spoke to them, what you talked about, and everyone’s contact information. Keep copies of all the letters you send and all the responses you receive. If you write an email, send it with a read receipt and delivery confirmation.
- Do not give up! You’re going to face obstacles, such as a decision maker who won’t respond to your request for a meeting. They might even try to pass you off from one person to the next, suggesting you meet with a lower-level official. You want to deal with the person that has the ultimate decision-making power because they’ll have the final say in resolving issues. You’ll also want as many stakeholders as possible at the meeting, so keep at it!