Legislation Would Regulate Trapping Cats

There is proposed legislation in Ulster County that would regulate the trap, neuter and return of feral or stray cats. Additionally, the euthanasia of those animals would also be regulated.

“This legislation came about after a local resident here in New Paltz, he had several of his pets he allowed outside were trapped in part of a so-called rescue and then they were adopted out,” said Laura Petit, I-Esopus. “So he was able to reunite with the cats but that is not only the case. That’s how the law came about. He drafted it up and asked if I would carry it for him.” 

“We tried to get it passed at the municipal level in several towns and it’s being reviewed, but it never went to public hearing. It was carried forward at the county level and the idea behind this is that if you have a free roaming cat and there happens to be a rescue operation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be TNR (Trap-Neuter Release). 

“Some of the controversy of TNR has been added into the mix here, unfortunately, and we would just like to focus on the fact that it is a trapping notification law, so if someone is trapping in your neighborhood, they are required to inform the town, village or city clerk and they are required to post the area,” Petit said.

Under the proposed law, there must be every attempt to find the cat’s owner. After seven days the rescuer must then make every attempt to adopt and/or place the cat in a proper home or place of shelter. In the case of releases, after the mandatory waiting period of seven days has passed andan attempt has been made to find the owner or a shelter, the rescuers must release the feline within 50 feet of where they were trapped.

Animal owners would be reunited with their pets,” Petit said. “That is the main benefit. If your cat for instance, were taken as part of a rescue they would be united with them. One of the other caveats too is that they are not immediately euthanized. There are rescue groups that believe a cat should not be allowed to roam free. If it’s not clearly a feral cat they would have to hold it and give the owner time to get in touch with them before they are destroyed.”

The law would also require any individual or organization trapping cats to immediately release any cats with “tipped ears,” which means a cat has been spayed or neutered.

If the law is passed, it would be unlawful to trap a free roaming cat, stray or feral, except under several conditions:

A notification to a city, town or village clerk, which would include a written reason for the intent for trapping. The notification would include a date, location and reason for trapping and the name of the organization, operation or individual responsible for the cat rescue at the organization.

A notification to residents within 1,000 feet of the cat rescue operation must be delivered within 24 hours prior to the beginning of the operation to the resident. Additionally, if the cat rescue operation is in proximity of 1,000 feet within an apartment complex or other structure with 10 or more living spaces, the notification must be posted in all areas where residents can see them.

These notifications must include the name of the cat rescue organization, the operation and/or individual and all contact information provided to the Town or Village Clerk. Additionally, it must include the date and location of the cat rescue operation, the maximum amount of felines to be trapped and a reason of intended disposition of the trapped animals. The date and location of trapping and the way they will be trapped and reason for trapping.

Feral cats are typically cats that have either been wild, or were once pets who have since become wild. They typically roam the streets and don’t have homes. Most of the time they live in “colonies” with other feral cats, and while they usually aren’t dangerous, they can be sometimes.

This law would make it so that the cats couldn’t be euthanized by anyone other than a registered veterinarian. Most animal rescue groups employ the method similar to the proposed legislation in Ulster County. Some oppositions to the proposed law cite it being more humane to euthanize these feral cats, because of their potential danger to people.