Note to City of Henderson: Stop Killing Cats!

After terminating employees to save money, the City of Henderson is spending $2 million over the next four years on a contract with a Reno firm to improve Henderson’s image.  I’m no PR expert, but my advice won’t cost a dime: Next time give the work to a local firm to offset the job loss.  And here’s my second tip, also free: Stop killing cats!

Unlike other municipalities in Southern Nevada, the City of Henderson has refused to adopt “Trap, Neuter and Release” or TNR,  a practice that not only saves lives and money but reduces the stray and feral cat populations. It’s costing cats their lives at a time when Henderson Mayor Debra March says the city is committed to working toward becoming a no-kill facility.
TNR involves trapping, vaccinating and neutering feral and stray cats, which are prevalent because of our transient population and the housing crisis, during which many family pets were abandoned.
In a few short years the TNR effort, mostly conducted by animal-loving volunteers, has drastically reduced the feral cat population in Southern Nevada.  Except in Henderson, which outlaws feeding stray cats and TNR but encourages residents to bring trapped cats in for “evaluation for adoption” (a certain death sentence for almost all.)
TNR is working.  Experts estimate as many as 15,000 of the valley’s 200,000 feral cats have undergone TNR.  From 2015 to 2016 the number of cats taken in by the Animal Foundation of Las Vegas decreased from 11,643 to 8,759  a drop of 25%.  The number of euthanized cats decreased 52% from 6,359 to 3,055. By contrast, Henderson took in 1,573 cats in 2015 and 1,525 in 2016, only about a three percent decline.  The euthanization rate in Henderson dropped slightly, from 34 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2016.
What’s more, that higher than necessary euthanasia rate is costing taxpayers.  It’s more expensive to kill a cat than to neuter, vaccinate and release.  And face it, there’s nothing like a dead cat in the street to tarnish the image of a pastoral Green Valley road.
A Henderson Animal Control official told me the one dose of rabies vaccine administered through TNR is insufficient to protect a cat.  Veterinarian Terry Muratore of Legacy Animal Hospital (in Henderson, of course) says one dose is highly preferable to none!  He says Henderson officials would be wise to allow TNR and the feeding of feral colonies.  Muratore says colonies of starving, sick felines are far more of a threat to humans that robust, well-fed kitties.  And then there’s the image problem…

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