Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the humane and effective approach to community cat populations. It is a vital program that protects cats by spaying and neutering them so they can live out their lives in the outdoor homes where they thrive. To return a cat outdoors through TNR is to bring her back to where she belongs, not abandon her.
The Michigan House of Representatives is considering a bill that reflects this fact: House Bill 4596. Alley Cat Allies is mobilizing supporters and advocates in the state to speak out for the bill, which clarifies that the “return” in TNR is not abandonment.
The bill also protects community cat caregivers from the legal requirements of ownership by stating that they are not the owners of community cats, but instead good Samaritans stepping forward to care for animals. Michigan’s community cat caregivers are on the front lines every day providing food, water, spay and neuter, and vaccination to cats. If passed, HB 4596 will defend their lifesaving work.
To further protect community cats, HB 4596 also ensures they are not included in licensing requirements, feeding bans, and at-large provisions that endanger their lives. If subject to these measures, more community cats are impounded by animal control and put at risk in animal shelters. Most community cats are killed in shelters because they are not socialized to people and are thus unadoptable.
Overall, the bill recognizes that it is in the best interest of cats and shelter staff to move cats out of the shelter system as quickly as possible. It exempts cats who are directed to a TNR program from shelter stray hold periods so they can be immediately spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped, and returned to their outdoor homes.