Help Desk Success: Cat-Friendly Ordinances

Whether we’re pushing for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs or fighting against cat licensing requirements, a big part of protecting cats is ensuring that laws are on their side. Alley Cat Allies’ program and legal teams have been hard at work helping cat advocates pass or defeat ordinances that affect cats. We start working on many of these because advocates contact our National Cat Help Desk for assistance.

Here are just some of our recent highlights and successes:

Old Bridge, NJ

The town council in Old Bridge, NJ, recently approved a yearlong TNR pilot program after years of work by a dedicated veterinarian and help from Alley Cat Allies.

Our work with veterinarian Anita Greenberg-Belli started in September 2015, when she reached out to us for help in advocating for TNR in her community. Eventually, she decided she would be a more effective advocate not just as a resident, but a town council member. She ran for town council and won a seat. Once on the council, she reached out to us again for help passing a TNR ordinance, and we sent letters and educational information. In early April, the council approved the pilot program!  We appreciate Anita’s dedication and are proud to have been part of this lifesaving change.

Wakulla County, FL

Wakulla County, FL, implemented a collaborative TNR ordinance after we helped different groups agree on the language.

Nonprofit Paws of Wakulla had been leading TNR efforts in the county, but the ordinances and animal control protocols in place didn’t protect community cats. Paws wanted to change that, as did animal control, but they were having trouble agreeing on specifics. Paws called on Alley Cat Allies, and we in turn contacted the animal control officers and helped the two groups find common ground.

The county attorney had concerns also, about vaccinations and a few other aspects of TNR, so our staff attorneys stepped in to educate and compromise. Because of our efforts together, a better TNR ordinance was passed! Now Wakulla County is a safer, more humane place for community cats.

Wausau, WI

The city of Wausau, WI, started a TNR pilot program after we provided tips to a newly-formed TNR group and donated traps to the city.

The Community Cat Action Team (CCAT), a group of TNR advocates, was trying to convince the city council to allow a TNR pilot program. However, the group was concerned about backlash from people who believed in outdated community cat control methods like catch and kill. In March 2016, CCAT changed its name to the Community Cat Action Team of Marathon County to reflect their interest in helping cats all throughout their county, not just Wausau. To help this newly branded group make their case and better represent itself to the community, we shared effective talking points and advocacy tips. We also sent letters voicing our support for TNR to the city council aldermen and donated 10 traps to get them started. Because of our help, the city council approved the pilot program!  As of February, they completed TNR on 80 cats and say that public perception of TNR is improving dramatically.

Buffalo City, WI

We helped defeat a proposed cat licensing ordinance in Buffalo City and let the city council members know that we’re ready to fight any future ordinance that would harm cats alongside the city’s cat advocates.

Last April, a constituent in Buffalo City alerted us through our National Cat Help Desk to the proposed ordinance. Alley Cat Allies condemns cat licensing ordinances because they are ineffective and increase the chance that cats without identification—like community cats—will be brought to shelters and killed. We sent letters opposing the ordinance to the council members and the mayor. Our involvement paid off—the ordinance was defeated!

Alley Cat Allies is always keeping an ear to the ground for issues that affect community cats and the people who care for them. We are proud of these success stories and are hard at work creating even more around the nation. Watch out for more updates on the lifesaving work we’re doing for cats!

Are you concerned about the well-being of cats in your community, or need help advocating for an ordinance? Contact our National Cat Help Desk.