Animal Control Intake of Healthy Wildlife

Animal Control Intake of Healthy Wildlife

It is the position of NACA that picking up, accepting, impounding or destroying healthy and treatable wildlife is a misuse of officer time and public funds and is not consistent with the humane mission of animal welfare organizations. Additionally, extermination of healthy wildlife does not result in long term human/animal conflict resolution. As an alternative to impounding and destroying healthy and treatable wildlife, NACA recommends animal control provide education on wild animals in the area as well as effective and humane methods to deter and exclude animals from homes, structures and targeted areas. It is further the position of NACA that, at every opportunity, officers should work to educate the public regarding humane coexistence with wildlife.

NACA recognizes some injured animals may need to be humanely euthanized by officers, as in the case of seriously injured deer. For injured, treatable animals, NACA recommends animal control agencies partner with reputable wildlife rehabilitation organizations so injured animals can be transported by animal control to a rehab center in cases when the animal’s life may be saved.


San Diego Humane Society Coexisting With Wildlife web page

Project Coyote recommendations for Coexistence with Coyotes

Science Daily co-existing with wildlife journal article

Humane Society Wildlife Management tools and guidelines

Animal Control Intake of Free-Roaming Cats

Animal Control Intake of Free-Roaming Cats

It is the position [policy] of the National Animal Care & Control Association that, at every opportunity, officers should [will] work to educate the public regarding humane and responsible co-existence and care of pet and community cats, to include education on the benefits and resources for spay/neuter and vaccination; responsible feeding and management practices for those choosing to care for community cats; and effective methods to humanely deter and exclude animals from homes, structures and targeted areas. It is the position of NACA that indiscriminate pick up or admission of healthy, free-roaming cats, regardless of temperament, for any purpose other than TNR/SNR, fails to serve commonly held goals of community animal management and protection programs and, as such, is a misuse of time and public funds and should be avoided.

  • Impoundment of healthy adult cats reduces the likelihood of reuniting families with pets:
    Lost cats are 10-50 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if they stay in the neighborhood of origin than through an animal shelter. In fact, the most successful reunification method for cats is the cat returning home on its own. A family may not consider their free-roaming cat lost until the point when the cat is removed from the neighborhood and transported to a shelter.
    • Impoundment of healthy adult cats may disproportionately impact under-served and marginalized communities
      • Only 16% of participants in a program supporting low income pet owners have ever called or visited an animal shelter, and only 3% of pets in the same demographic were adopted from a shelter (compared to 30-40% for the general U.S. population), suggesting that impoundment is likely to be a one way journey for pets belonging to low income community members.
      • Only ~40 % of people in the lowest income bracket (<$30,000 annual income) that lost cats were reunited with them, compared to > $90% reunited for those making $50,000 or more per year.
  • Impoundment has the potential to increase cat populations and impact: The haphazard removal of individual cats is not population management. Removal of cats without concurrent control of the food source has been linked to paradoxical increases in cat populations by as much as 200%.
    • Kittens pose a greater risk than adult cats for shedding and spreading parasites with wildlife and/or public health implications (e.g. toxoplasmosis, Toxocara cati, Ancylostoma spp.),
    • therefore removing adult cats and destabilizing population age structures further increases risks to the environment.
  • Impoundment fails to resolve the inciting factors for nuisance situations: if cats are simply impounded, community members may not be motivated to identify and remedy factors such as open garbage containers that may be attracting cats as well as nuisance wildlife. TNR programs that leave cats where they are have been associated with significant reductions in nuisance complaints.
  • Impoundment of healthy free roaming cats reduces capacity to respond to critical community needs: historically “stray cats” have made up the majority of intake at North American shelters. This can leave shelters overwhelmed, overcrowded and less able to provide appropriate care and outcomes for those animals that do require sheltering (such as sick and injured animals, those whose owners can no longer keep them, and animals that have been neglected or abused).

Impounding healthy cats is not the best way to provide services to these cats and the residents in the area in which the cats are found. NACA advises officers to take proactive steps to divert intake of “stray cats” while offering services that support the goals of community animal management and protection programs:

  • Refer the public to local organizations or other staff/programs within the shelter that focus on trap-neuter-return, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, or utilize a return-to-home program within the agency if outside resources are not available or accessible.
  • Support ongoing care of community cats with information on best feeding practices, referrals to pet pantries and sources for outdoor cat shelters, etc. to reduce likelihood of future complaints and contribute to the wellbeing of the individual community cats. Feeding bans are not effective strategies for dispersing congregations of cats or mitigating complaints.
  • Work with residents to mitigate nuisance complaints, deploying a range of available tools (e.g., humane deterrents) and collaborating with caregivers and local TNR and rescue groups.

Exceptions to this policy should be made to mitigate exigent risk or to alleviate significant nuisance situations that can’t be otherwise remedied (e.g. with counseling/education of caretakers, sterilization and vaccination of cats, use of humane deterrents). These circumstances are best identified through a managed admission program that includes contact and counseling prior to intake. Staff should be informed and encouraged to use their judgement on a case by case basis. Exceptions may include the following:

  • Evidence of abandonment: Most cats in good body condition are receiving care, however in some circumstances it may be known that a cat has been recently abandoned, e.g. because it is known that the former owners moved and are not returning to care for the cats, or because the structure where the cat was known to be living was recently destroyed.
  • Evidence of being lost and unable to reunite: While cats are more likely to return home on their own or through posting in their neighborhood of origin, it may be appropriate to admit a healthy free roaming cat if efforts have already been made to reunite it with the owner (e.g. posting in neighborhood of origin and social media without results; cat has been seen for an extended time without encouragement by feeding).
  • Issues with larger groups: Large aggregations of cats may be associated with greater nuisance and risks than individual free roaming cats. A multi-faceted approach should be taken in these cases that leads to gradual reduction or elimination of the group, such as: a combination of caretaker education, sterilization and gradual removal to adoption, and relocation to working cat homes.
  • Specific risks identified for wildlife: Removal may be part of a multi-faceted approach to cat management in protected habitats for sensitive wildlife species. However, even in these cases, ad hoc removal (lethal or non-lethal) has not been demonstrated to be effective and in some cases has led to paradoxical population increases in target areas. Unless new arrivals can be excluded by fencing, removal must be sufficiently intensive and sustained to outpace new immigration and breeding, the natural consequence of a decrease in population density. Community buy-in is critical for success and a multi-faceted approach is required that includes input from natural resource personnel, animal services staff and cat advocates.



  1. Lord, L.K., et al., Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost cat. J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2007. 230(2): p. 217-20.
  2. E. Weiss, M. Slater, L. Lord, et al. Frequency of Lost Dogs and Cats in the United States and the Methods Used to Locate Them. Animals (Basel). 2012 Jun; 2(2): 301–315.
  3. Pets For Life 2017 Program Report. 2017. p. 16
  4. Hill, et al. Humans and Animal Vulnerability Study.
  5. Lazenby, B.T., Mooney, N.J., and Dickman, C.R. (2014). Effects of low-level culling of feral cats in open populations: a case study from the forests of southern Tasmania. Wildlife Research, 41, 401-420.
  6. Finkler H, Gunther I, and Terkel J. “Behavioral differences between urban feeding groups of neutered and sexually intact free-roaming cats following a trap-neuter-return procedure.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 238, no. 9 (2011); 1141–1149.
  7. Levy JK, Isaza NM, Scott KC. Effect of high-impact targeted trap-neuter-return and adoption of community cats on cat intake to a shelter. Vet J. 2014 Sep;201(3):269-74.
  8. National Feline Research Council: Feral cat feeding bans: The reasoning, risks, and results, 2020
2020 NACA Award Receipients

2020 NACA Award Receipients

There are an incredible number of professionals in the animal welfare field doing such amazing work. The 2020 recipients are as follows:

NACA 2020 – ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Recipient – Officer Michael Northrup

This award is given to an individual that has been directly involved in the animal care and control profession for a minimum of five years. Recipients may be nominated for a single outstanding achievement in animal one of the three specific groups, or long-term exceptional performance in the animal care and control field.

ACO Northrup is has shown tremendous passion for his position this year, working in the busiest and most populous zone within the county, consistently handling the highest case load and responding to over 1,000 animal control calls this year. In addition to his daily case load, Michael always finds time to assist citizens in need with special cases such as TNVR support. Michael goes above and beyond for the citizens of the county.

In the past year ACO Northrup assisted a motorist on the highway to extinguish a car fire, aided a citizen who was the victim of elder abuse to receive the appropriate treatment and care after responding to a loose dog complaint, and aided another citizen suffering from a mental health issue who was running in a dangerous street.

ACO Northrup is a valuable member of the community as an ACO and serves as an example of ACO’s being first responders.


NACA 2020 – HUMANE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Recipient – Officer Daniel Achuff

This award is given to an individual that has been directly involved in the animal care and control profession for a minimum of five years. Recipients may be nominated for a single outstanding achievement in animal one of the three specific groups, or long-term exceptional performance in the animal care and control field.

Officer Daniel Achuff was able to achieve his childhood dream of working to protect animals in 2015 when he was hired as a Humane Society Police Officer. Officer Achuff is a criminal justice graduate and is a member of the Army National Guard. Officer Achuff holds a 95% prosecution rate in court and has shown incredible passion to the animals in the community he is sworn to protect.

“After adopting my German Shepherd, I ran into Daniel. Not knowing who he was, he ran up to my dog, calling her name and hugging her. Daniel was the officer on duty when my dog had been taken from her abusive owner. Several months later we again saw Daniel. My sweet pup remembered her rescuer and both Daniel and my Shepherd shared a sweet hug. There’s an obvious bond that Daniel has to every pet he rescues. The warmth he displays is natural for him. This isn’t just a job for Daniel but a personal mission to be these animals’ hero. I respect him as an officer and a lovely human being.” – excerpt from nomination


NACA 2020 – ANIMAL CARE PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR – Recipient – Gina Botticello

This award is given to an individual that has been directly involved in the animal care and control profession for a minimum of five years. Recipients may be nominated for a single outstanding achievement in animal one of the three specific groups, or long-term exceptional performance in the animal care and control field.

Botticello works as a Pet Services Supervisor and manages the animal transfer and rescue program, the foster program, the volunteer program, and customer service for Pasco County Animal Services. Botticello was a contributing member of the Guiding Coalition that helped Animal Services achieve the Service Enterprise Certification from the Point of Light Foundation recognizing Animal Services for excellence in volunteer programming. This included creating a program of volunteer inclusion, skills-based volunteer
opportunities, and a vision to achieve the mission of Pasco County Animal Services through strategic use of their volunteer force.

“Her passion for life saving and her dedication to the mission of animal care and control are clearly the why she comes to work every day. She is resolved in her efforts to make PCAS a premier organization and a lifesaving resource for pets in need… Her dedication to serving others and creating positive customer experiences is just one of her great attributes that won her the 2020 Florida Animal Control Association Supervisor of the year Award.” – excerpts from nomination

NACA 2020 – OUTSTANDING STATE ASSOCIATION – Animal Control Officers of Massachusetts

This award recognizes the State Animal Control Association that best promotes and exemplifies professionalism in the animal care and control field. Factors considered in granting this award include the number of active members, increases in new members, improved quality of animal care and control programs within their state, active sponsors of seminars and training for members, and engaged in NACA sponsored training and events.

“For nearly 40 years, communities across the Commonwealth (MA) have benefited from the knowledge and expertise provided by ACOAM. Since its inception, ACOAM has worked tirelessly to create a better and safer world for humans and animals by providing trainings in specialized fields, which is additional to the 96-hour academy. Further, ACOAM has helped bring Massachusetts to the forefront of animal control and care. Through the hard work and dedication of their members, ACOAM has helped draft and support legal protections for animals before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Due to their high standards, ACOAM serves as an example; which out entities outside of Massachusetts model themselves after.” Anne Gobi, Massachusetts State Senator

*Pictured are current and past board members of ACOAM*


This award is given to an individual not directly employed in the animal care and control field, but who has shown an exceptional awareness in animal care and control related matters, which merits distinction. The recipient will be recognized as a “friend” of animal care and control, for contributions and outstanding action that has helped further the positive image of animal care and control professionals through local, state, or national animal control associations.

Deputy District Attorney, Christopher Day has been a key advocate for animals in Washoe County, Nevada by assuring that justice is served in a number of animal cruelty cases. DDA works with the Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony animal cruelty cases. In addition, DDA Day provides training workshops to WCRAS to further develop their investigation skills and case preparation. DDA Day developed a streamlined process for felony case submissions and is a recognized voice for Washoe County’s animals.


This award is for outstanding volunteer service. The nominee selected to win this award is someone who is not directly employed in the animal care and control field but serves in a volunteer capacity within the animal care and control field or other animal welfare-related activities. He or she will have demonstrated exceptional dedication or performed outstanding work far beyond the volunteer position’s requirements.

Dr. Darnice Pettigrew DVM is the owner and operator of the North Fork Veterinary Hospital in Timberville, VA. Dr. Pettigrew volunteers each week to provide shelter exams to the animals at the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA, serves as their board president, and shares her time and knowledge to assist ACO’s with their cases. When not helping the animals of the community, Dr. Pettigrew is a dedicated turtle rescuer. Many baby turtles have made it back to sea due to Dr. Pettigrew’s dedication.

NACA 2020 – OUTSTANDING ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL AGENCY – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control

This award is presented to an individual agency that best promotes and exemplifies professionalism in the animal care and control field. This award’s selection criterion includes effective training programs for personnel, outstanding/innovative public education programs, active community involvement, and average officer response time to calls for assistance.
Instead of things slowing down during the COVID-19 pandemic CM AC&C was able to turn the situation into many positives. Not only were they able to adapt and continue to save more lives from a sheltering perspective but were able to find creative ways to provide seamless response with their field service. Officers were able to continue training through virtual learning environments on topics such as dog fighting, animal abuse, and handling wildlife issues. CM AC&C transitioned 11 ACO’s to Human Animal Support Services Officers who were assigned to work in the community to assist pet owners.

NACA First Responders Position Statement

Animal Control Officers Should Be Considered First Responders

The National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) believes all animal field services professionals (animal control, animal protection, etc.), should be considered and treated as first responders. The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Systems define first responders as “individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment”. Animal control officers and other animal field services professionals meet this definition.

The very core of the work of an animal control officer is deeply rooted in community engagement, public safety and the welfare of non-human animals. Historically, animal control officers were on the frontline of protecting communities and addressing public health concerns such as preventing the spread of the rabies virus. Their early role has now been dramatically expanded to include providing community support and outreach, investigating animal cruelty and neglect, and saving animals who are in immediate danger. Additionally, they work alongside other first responders such as law enforcement, EMTs, and firefighters on a regular basis during weather emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events.

Communities and local municipal agencies should view and support their animal control officers at the same level as other first responders. Additionally, communities and local government agencies should provide on-going training, equipment, and resources necessary to support the work of their animal control officers working at the frontline of their community.

Homeland Security Act of 2002. (2019, May 28). Retrieved December 06, 2020, from​

Download: NACA First Responders Position Statement (pdf)

Members: Potential Merger Discussions

Members: Potential Merger Discussions

Members. For information on the upcoming discussion on a potential merger please login to the members page to see the latest updates. The discussion’s Zoom information is provided on that page.

Additionally, the IRS 990’s from 2013 through 2019 have been added for your review as well.

The NACA board is working to compile meeting minutes, both recent and historical, to be released in the coming days.