ACA suggest for the control of feral cats in a particular area to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) them. Besides preventing further breeding, neutering also deters cat fights, territory marking, and yowling. Returning the cats prevents the vacuum effect from happening. In addition, ACA suggest that each colony have a “minder” to provide veterinarian care and to remove any new cats for further evaluation. The minder keeps the cats from getting sick and spreading their illnesses to humans.
One thing that the HSUS cautions against is to ban the feeding of feral cats by people. Feeding bans have been used by communities to either drive the cats out or starve them to death. However, the hungry cats will move even closer to human homes to raid their garbage cans. Often malnourished, these cats, infested with parasites, pass them onto unsuspecting people. Also, dead cats provide havens for disease transmittal.
I saw the success of ACA’s work with the feral colony living near the dumpster behind my doctor’s office. Their minder neutered the cats, fed, and housed them on site. She would check for new cats, which usually turned out to be strays. After five years, the colony died out naturally, and remains cat-free.
For feral dogs, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) urges that the dogs be sterilized and vaccinated. This will keep them healthy, less aggressive, and not prone to attacking people. The IFAW advises against a “shoot-and-kill” policy which does little to decrease the number of dogs. The object is to prevent the breeding of more animals, and the entry of new dogs. One solution to animal overpopulation is to spay and neuter feral animals, and keep them in their home territories.
Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer,” and Randy Grimm of Stray Rescue of St. Louis (MO) agree that feral dogs should be rehabilitated. As pack animals, feral dogs can be encouraged to join the human pack. One of my neighbors works with abandoned dogs and trains them. Two of the feral dogs that she rehabilitated became therapy dogs for autistic children. My other neighbor has a pit bull, which was rehabilitated, as a pet. (This particular dog was used as a breeder for a dog fighting ring, and later abandoned as a bait dog.) In these three cases, once the dog became habituated to humans, the animal made an excellent pet.
Giant snakes and lizards can only be kept by herpetological societies since they are so dangerous. Kaplan believes that stricter licensing combined with higher pricing will deter people from buying reptiles that they will not care for. Since many of these reptiles are wild captures, they cannot be returned to the wild because of exposure to captive-bred animals. In response, many herpetological societies do extensive educational programs with these animals at schools to raise awareness and money for the care of abandoned reptiles.
“Shoot to kill,” removal, and euthanasia does not work to solve animal overpopulation. Measures that address both the vacuum effect and overbreeding at the source do better. Grimm stressed that it is a problem without an owner, which keeps it from being resolved. Millan noted only when packs of feral dogs start to roam in more upscale neighborhoods, will the problem be addressed.
To curb the numbers of unwanted animals, people must to be willing to pay taxes for better animal control. Andrei Poyarkov, a Russian specialist on feral dogs, also emphasizes that efficient garbage collection is needed, as well, to deter feeding places for feral animals. Through the media, people can be persuaded to get their pets from shelters, and to spay and neuter them. Through a network of increased animal control, education, spaying and neutering, and TNR will the numbers subside. Until people address the problem, the nightmare that now happening in Russia will occur elsewhere.
Alley Cat Allies, 2012, http://www.alleycat.org/
American Humane Association, 2012, http://www.americanhumane.org/
Baltimore (MD) Humane Society, 2012, http://www.bmorehumane.org/
The Humane Society of the United States, 2012, http://www.humanesociety.org/
International Fund for Animal Welfare, 2012, http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/
National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, 2009,
Stray Rescue of St. Louis (MO), 2012, http://strayrescue.org/,
Alexandrova, Lyudmila, “Moscow’s Dog Owners Say No to Dog Hunters,” 29 October 2012, Itar-Tass News Agency, http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c39/558090.html.
Doig, Will, “The Secret Lives of Feral Dogs,” Salon.com, 14, January, 2012, http://www.salon.com/2012/01/14/the_secret_lives_of_feral_dogs/.
Eremenko, Alexey, “Russian Doghunters Have No Nightmares,” RIA Novosti, 28 August 2012, http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20120823/175391749.html.
Jouvenal, Justin, “Fight over Ferals Boils Down to One Question: Do Alley Cats Live a Good Life?,” “The Washington Post,” 24, May, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fight-over-ferals-boils-down-to-one-question-do-alley-cats-live-a-good-life/2011/05/19/AFejOYAH_story.html
Kaplan, Melissa, “Herp Care Collection,” 2012, http://www.anapsid.org/
“NYC Feral Cat Initiative,” Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, 2012, http://www.nycferalcat.org/index.htm
Mott, Marilyn, “U.S. Facing Feral-Dog Crisis,” National Geographic News, 21 August, 2003, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/34706631.html
“Helping Pets and People in Crisis,” Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, 2012, http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/initiatives/crisis/index.htm
Wilkes, Joe, “Stray Dog Epidemic Hits U.S.”, Cesar’s Way, 22 February 2012, http://www.cesarsway.com/dogcare/health/Stray-Dog-Epidemic-Hits-US.