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.

References:

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.

CONTRIBUTOR CREDIT:  Dr. Kate Hurley

REFERENCES:

  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

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 https://www.dhs.gov/homeland-security-act-200​

Download: NACA First Responders Position Statement (pdf)

NACA Statement on Officer Safety

NACA Statement on Officer Safety

In this challenging time, we are deeply concerned for the safety of animal control officers around the nation, who continue their work of saving lives and protecting pets and people. Despite the varying situations happening in many of our cities, we want you to know we are with you and thinking of you during this troubling time. We are here for you. Please be safe out there!

In an effort to provide guidance to agencies operating the essential service that is Animal Control, NACA has developed the following recommendations:

– Receive direction from local law enforcement on areas that will be of risk, closed or otherwise have restricted access, and those determined safe for regular responses.

– Agencies should adjust responses as appropriate per the direction received from law enforcement.

– If an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is active in your community, ensure that an Agency representative is available to receive briefings and coordinate with other Agencies quickly. Time and effective communication are paramount in these situations.

– Establish policies for the protection of officers to include individual safety measures, personal protective equipment, and law enforcement support as needed. Refer to the NACA guidelines specifically on the safe use of personal protection equipment

– Provide daily briefings of the evolving situation in the community (non-animal related).

– Ensure any staff working in the field or in a vulnerable position always have at least 2 forms of communication (cell phone, radio, laptop, etc.) in help ensure emergency communication, if needed, is available.

Download: NACA statement on officer safety (pdf)

NACA Statement on Animal Control Functions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

NACA Statement on Animal Control Functions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

For the safety of our officers and the public they serve, NACA is advising all officers to take
extra measures to mitigate the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These
measures include protecting themselves properly to reduce risk of spreading the virus, as well
as working to manage and minimize the number of new animals entering our shelters.

As members of the public safety community we have an obligation to perform our sworn duties
during disasters both natural and man-made. To that end, NACA recommends the following:
High priority/emergency calls: At this time, officers should continue to respond to emergency
and high priority calls. High priority/emergency calls include law enforcement assistance,
injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous
and aggressive dog complaints.

Non-emergency calls and activities: Officers should suspend low priority/non-emergency
activity. This includes non-aggressive stray animal pick-up, leash law and licensing complaints,
barking and nuisance complaints, trapping and transport of community cats, and conflict
mitigation scenarios.

Shelter intake reduction: Animal control agencies should take active measures to reduce nonessential
shelter intake. Measures taken should include returning pets in the field instead
of impounding them, suspending non-emergency owner surrender intake, and encouraging
owners who are ill to keep their pets at home whenever possible.

Personal protective equipment: Animal control officers should be provided with personal
protective equipment (PPE) for cases requiring a response to a location with someone who is
sick or has been exposed to COVID-19. Officers should make every effort to not enter the home
of anyone who is known to have been exposed to the virus.

View More NACA Announcements & Resources

For ongoing information, please continue referring to all updates from the Centers for Disease
Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html