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Brooklyn, Parma Heights residents fired up over feral cat euthanization policy

Brooklyn, Parma Heights residents fired up over feral cat trap policy
Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 15:37:48-04

UPDATE: On Thursday, Brooklyn & Parma Hts Animal Control said it has suspended trapping feral cats momentarily.

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People in Brooklyn and Parma Heights are concerned about the feral cats in their neighborhoods after the Brooklyn and Parma Heights Animal Control published a Facebook post about its policy to euthanize trapped feral cats.

The post, which was published Tuesday and has since been deleted, reminded residents that feral cat traps will open on May 3. It also laid out the city’s policy of dealing with the feral cats it traps stating “per our policy, all intact feral cats that are trapped are humanely euthanized.” The city said it will attempt to relocate "ear-tipped" cats, but those are also humanely euthanized if they can't find a safe place to take them.

It also said that TNR programs, or "trap, neuter, release," don’t satisfy the complaints of residents requesting the traps, who aren’t concerned about the cat reproducing, but rather just want it gone in general.

The city said it works with several barn cat programs, but they fill quickly because of the over-population of feral cats.

“I felt like I'd been thrown back about 30 years,” said Danya Linehan, a Columbus-based veterinarian who commented on the post when it went viral. “It's been a very long time since I've seen anyone propose a solution of rounding up and killing cats to the overpopulation problem since we’ve been so successful with what we call TNR.”

Michelle Pierce, the owner of Michelle’s Meows, a Cleveland-based TNR cat rescue, said even though euthanizing the problem cat seems like a permanent solution -- it's not.

“That creates a vacuum effect,” Pierce said. “When you take 10 cats out of one area, the cats from the surrounding areas are going to come into that food shelter source. It doesn't matter if you stop feeding them, they're going to come where they have safety. And that's why TNR works as opposed to trapping and euthanizing because that stabilizes that colony, it stops them from reproducing, stops them from having the nuisance behaviors, and then they stay in that area and die out one by one over time.”

Debbie Bartowick, the office manager and veterinary assistant at Able Animal Hospital in Parma, was also upset by the post.

They believe more people need to be educated about TNR, and how it can help control feral cat populations and those nuisance behaviors so many don’t like, like spraying and aggression.

“Spaying and neutering is absolutely the biggest gain from this — you're reducing the population, the animals are much healthier,” Bartowick said. “They're vaccinated so the transmission of disease to other animals that people are letting outside is very minimal.”

Bartowick is also concerned about abandoned house cats being mistaken for feral cats.

“Every animal that gets caught in a trap can act feral. A lot of them are house cats. Some of these cats have been lost for months that people have been looking for. And they've been fighting to survive on their own so they can be scared. They need time to decompress,” Bartowick said.

Pierce said she spoke with Parma City Council Tuesday about implementing a TNR program there and is encouraging other animal lovers to reach out to their city leadership too. If she’s successful in Parma, she plans to move on to neighboring cities like Parma Heights and Brooklyn.

“People have to go to their city council and say, 'Hey, these changes need to be made, they need to change legislation,'” Pierce said.

Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke responded to News 5’s request for comment with this statement:

The City of Brooklyn and Parma Heights do trap feral cats only when requested by a resident. Since 2017 Animal Control has responded to 245 calls for feral cats or cats at large in Parma Hts and Brooklyn. If a trapped cat is determined to be feral they are humanly euthanized. Euthanizing intact feral cats is not an uncommon practice in Animal Control. Cats determined to be friendly, or young feral cats (kittens) are impounded. If no owner claims the cat they are placed for adoption. Since 2017 - our Animal Control has forever home’d over 96 cats between the two cities served. While only euthanizing 26 cats – this number includes terminally ill or injured cats as well. It is always our desire to find homes for all adoptable cats. TNR programs do not resolve the residents’ complaint of removing the cat.
Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke

More information about Michelle’s Meows can be found here.

Anyone seeking more information about feral cats should visit the Alley Cat Allies website.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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