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Richland, MO, Trap-Neuter-Return Ordinance

Fact Sheet| Cats and the Law, Trap-Neuter-Return

Richland, MO, passed its Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) ordinance in February 2015. It’s the result of Alley Cat Allies’ extensive work with council members, shelters, veterinary clinics, and community members.  The ordinance was drafted with the hopes of spaying or neutering as many cats as possible within the year. More than 600 cats out of an estimated 1,000 living in Richland were spayed or neutered within months of the ordinance passing.

One of our goals for Richland’s ordinance was to build a successful model that would inspire surrounding communities to pass ordinances of their own. It worked! In July of 2015, the city council of nearby Bland, MO, passed a TNR ordinance inspired by Richland’s.

Richland’s ordinance is strong in its simplicity. The initial instinct of many local governments is to overregulate, but overregulating a TNR program is unhelpful and tends to interfere with its effectiveness. That’s why Alley Cat Allies sometimes recommends not adding a specific TNR ordinance, but instead supporting community-based TNR programs. But if your community would function better with a more official and permanent support of TNR, Richland’s ordinance is a good model.

What we like about the ordinance:

  • It adds straightforward definitions to the terms community cat, caregiver, eartip, and Trap-Neuter-Return.
  • It has a section on permitted acts. The acts specifically mentioned are:
    • Trapping cats should only be for the purpose of TNR.
    • Impounded eartipped cats should be returned to the location where they were trapped.
    • Trapped eartipped cats should be released on-site unless veterinary care is required.

Caregivers are empowered to reclaim community cats from the shelter without proof of ownership for purposes of TNR.