City of Lawton Adopts TNR Policy
Lawton City Council members gave their approval Tuesday night, to a new program aimed at controlling the city's feral cat control population, agreeing to amend city code to allow sterilization of and care for such animals.
The Council's action allows for animal rescue to begin a program that organizers call Trap Neuter Return, a process that allows animal control to trap feral cats, neuter or spay them to prevent future breeding after inoculating them against disease (and removing those that are dangerously ill), then release them back to their "home colony."
The program is intended to not only prevent breeding, but create a healthier feral cat population by removing those with fatal diseases and vaccinating the ones that remain against diseases such as rabies. He said that inoculation component drew praise from health department officials, who say it will help lessen the risk of rabies in humans.
Existing city code will also have to be amended to allow the non-profit group Fix Lawton to coordinate a program that will register cat colonies, and establish caregivers for those colonies, providing food for the cats and helping in their care. The code must be revised, because currently it is illegal to allow a cat to roam at large or to feed or otherwise care for cats that are running at large. To do so for more than 10 days makes the resident the cat's owner, and thus responsible for allowing it to run at large. This new provision will go into effect in 30 days.
The revised code provides specific definitions for feral cats, colonies and caregivers. The new code also specifies that a caregiver does not meet the definition of owner, meaning, they won't be subject to citations or fines for allowing cats to run at large.