Due to several instances of cat rescuers accidentally trapping a family pet, New Paltz Village Trustee Dennis Young is proposing a new policy to ensure “that all reasonable efforts must be made to reunite the cat with its human family.”
“98 percent of the time, cat rescuers are doing their job right,” Young said. “But there have been times when people rescue other people’s cats by accident.”
In order for a cat caught up in a sweep to be properly returned to its home, this new policy proposes that rescuers would have to be listed in a registry, notify neighbors of traps, maintain documentation such as photographs, location of trapping and description of physical features of all animals, for no less than six months. This stricter policy also calls for agencies to wait at least 10 days before euthanizing any animal ensnared.
Public notices of a rescue operation also have their own set of guidelines, which should contain the name of the cat rescue organization, date and location of trapping and method and reason for trapping.
Terence P. Ward, a reporter for The New Paltz Times, came to Young when his cat was caught by rescuers and then located in New Jersey.
“Ward was actually the one who wrote the draft of the law,” Young said.
Since creating a law is a lengthy process, Young decided that it would be best for this issue to be a policy first. Young is optimistic that this policy will become enforced due to the amount of organizations, rescuers and cat owners who have come forward asking for a more efficient way to control feral cats without mistakenly taking someone’s pet.
Ward has written an article for The New Paltz Times on this same issue due to his personal connection with the matter. In the article, he spoke to Laura Petit, a cat rescuer for 12 years, on the feral cat issue. She cites that the challenge “was that per, state law, towns have dog control officers, not animal control officers, meaning that there’s no enforcement mechanism.”
Many cat rescuers at New Paltz are volunteers who work to improve the lives of stray feral cats and stop diseases that come from an increase in feral cat populations. Although there has never been a policy like this before, if this policy is passed and enforced, many families say they would have the comfort of knowing that their pets are safe and sound.