Showing posts with label humane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label humane. Show all posts

Sunday 14 January 2024

Council proposes criminalising the feeding of feral and stray cats

NEWS AND OPINION: This is another episode in the ongoing saga which troubles America namely how to effectively deal with feral cats. Sometimes these are better described as community cats because they are either semi-feral or even domestic cats recently ejected from their home. That's quite an important point in this discussion.

Meeting to discuss criminalising the feeding of feral cats. Two women for TNR face the meeting's chairperson! Guess who won! Image is a screenshot from the video below.

But historically, in America, councils have struggled with dealing with feral cats because the best way to deal with them is TNR run by volunteers and TNR requires feeding of the cats as this is a humane process. Feeding feral cats is problematic for people who either don't like cats or are unsure about the presence of feral cats.

Regrettably you'll have to watch the video on YouTube as the news media outlet does not want it shown on websites. Please click here to see it. I like it as it shows us the real life struggles in making a decision on dealing with feral cats in the community.

In fact, a lot of people in a community dislike feral cats and want them removed completely whereas on the other hand there are people who see the need to help feral cats. They see their presence as an animal welfare issue whereas the former group see their presence as harming the amenity of the area.

And this background discussion is part of the debate in Strasbourg, Ohio which has proposed criminalising the feeding of feral cats in their community specifically the Tuscarawas County village. Some residents there feel that their community is overrun by feral cats.

The proposed ordinance would stop TNR volunteers feeding feral cats. I can recall, 15 years ago, a big discussion, indeed argument, about feeding feral cats in West Hollywood. At the end of the day, the people who fed feral cats and the TNR program won the day because it is a humane solution.

In this instance, a packed meeting on Tuesday - as I believe you can see in the video - discussed the proposed ordinance at a second reading. It was a chance for community members to voice their concerns.

The video provides a hint as to the outcome of this meeting. It seems that the general community feeling was that criminalising the feeding of feral cats is the wrong thing to do. It is not the best solution. 

One should look at both points of view and one should be sensitive towards those people who don't like to see feral cats being fed because it encourages wildlife to the area. That's the classic issue but overriding that, in my view, is the fact that humankind needs to act humanely towards feral cats because we put them there.

The only humane way to deal with feral cats at the moment is TNR programs hopefully supported by the community and indeed by the local authority, which makes them more effective.

And we have to think of the women (normally) who run these programs. They enjoy doing it. It gives them purpose. They do good work. Let's think of the women volunteers and the occasional man who likes to help reduce the feral cat and community cat population through humane methods as opposed to trapping and killing.

When you watch the video, and you see these wonderful ladies involved in TNR, you simply cannot ignore the strength of the argument that TNR, despite its weaknesses, is the best way forward in a community.

In the video one person spoke up and said that sometimes among the feral cats there is a domestic cat. You cannot trap that cat and kill him or her because you will be committing a true crime that of criminal damage against the property owned by somebody else.

In nearby Dover, the local mayor there said that TNR had made a big impact in the city. TNR has been a success and it can be a success if it is run properly. Here's a quote from News Five Cleveland on "Tusc TNR":
"Since the Tusc TNR program was instituted in the City of Dover 5 years ago, the city has seen a significant reduction in complaints from residents regarding feral cats.  As of October of 2023, the group had trapped, neutered and released 862 cats and adopted out another 228 kittens.  In particular, we previously had an area of town behind several restaurants and other businesses, which we received a number of complaints about.  The TNR program came in and has significantly reduced the number of feral cats in that area.  The TNR group works closely with the city administration to target areas of town as needed and reduce the feral cat population.  The City of Dover has a great working relationship with the Tusc TNR program."

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Thursday 8 June 2023

Is cat euthanasia guaranteed always to be totally humane and painless?

 The question in the title, I think, is a fair one. 99.9% of the general public believes that euthanising a pet is painless and the humane thing to do when the animal is chronically ill and suffering persistent pain. Of course, we know that many pets are euthanised at the convenience of their owner or because they are unwanted. That, incidentally, is a symptom of the failure of cat and dog domestication but it is another story.

I am asking the question whether euthanising a cat with sodium pentobarbital is genuinely painless. When this drug is delivered to humans in 84% of cases their lungs fill up with a frothy liquid which causes pain and distress indeed panic because it is like waterboarding torture. How do cats feel when this drug is delivered to them? Image in public domain.

Perhaps the two words "painless" and "killing" simply cannot live together. It seems unnatural that we can kill animals painlessly because being killed would seem to be automatically painful in the natural world. At least in some way or other. Can it be entirely painless? We like to think it is. My research indicates that it isn't.

Even the best veterinarians, much-loved in their community, might occasionally screw up and make a botch of the euthanasia of a loyal customer's cat or dog. And some veterinarians do not follow sound procedures.

There are different ways to euthanize a pet at a veterinary clinic. You can employ the one jab injection of barbiturate anaesthetic, sodium pentobarbital, that's the simple route. But it can go wrong because the hypodermic needle might be misplaced or the vein might burst. The sodium pentobarbital might spill out into the body tissue which I'm told is painful. It may be very painful.

That's the first issue. And in any case, simply injecting a cat in a vein of itself is going to be at least potentially painful and probably actually painful.

We shouldn't forget, by the way, the distress/pain of the pet's owner who should really be present in the consultation room when their beloved companion is being humanely dispatched.

The way to avoid the above-mentioned difficulty in administering the killing drug is to apply an intravenous catheter to the animal and then you administer the drug through that catheter. It is a more controlled and predictable way of proceeding.

The problem here is that it can be difficult to apply the catheter. The animal might struggle. The owner won't like it and be distressed. They take the animal into a back room which I think is going to also distress the owner because they won't know what's happening.

Then they bring the cat or dog forward into the consultation room to administer the killing barbiturate anaesthetic. There could be a third step which is to apply a painkiller and sedation drug which renders the cat or dog unconscious before the final injection is applied.

In short, this could be or should be a three-stage process to guarantee that it is painless. That is: a catheter, a knockout drug which renders them in conscious, and then the third stage is the final barbiturate injection.

That's what the best veterinarians do to humanely euthanise a companion cat. However, as I understand it, most veterinarians don't do it this way. They might use the single injection which is I think problematic. Although they might use a two-stage process and avoid using the catheter which of itself is potentially problematic.

The point I'm making in this post is that it requires considerable care and a good method to ensure that the euthanasia of a companion animal at a veterinary clinic is genuinely painless and therefore humane. Sometimes it isn't on my understanding having researched the matter on the Internet. We don't have numbers to rely on to tell us if this is a big problem or a non-problem. I can't find the statistics. 

There is also the issue of the drug sodium pentobarbital which I have highlighted in the caption to the photo above.

Of course, you should know that I'm not a veterinarian and therefore reliant upon research. But I use the best sources and, in this case, these were veterinary websites.

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