Target: Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy
Goal: Apologize for jailing elderly man for feeding stray cats, and adopt new plan to address stray cat populations.
A 76-year-old man was sentenced to nine days in jail after refusing to pay fines incurred for illegally feeding stray cats in Texas. Gainesville, the city where the man lives, has a law that makes feeding stray cats a fineable offense due to concerns that stray cats spread disease and attract unwanted pests. While these concerns are valid, ordinances to deal with the stray cat population directly would be more effective than putting a compassionate man in jail. Gainesville needs to address its feral cat population at the source, because hungry feral cats will only resort to raiding garbage cans and other sources of food.
Stray cat colonies are a real concern, as they aren’t healthy for cats, other animal populations, or people. But putting a man in jail for trying to help the cats does nothing to help the problem either, as the cats are still out there and have to turn to other sources of food. Rather than jailing people for being compassionate, Gainesville should focus on other methods of dealing with feral cat populations—one study of a ‘trap-neuter-release’ program showed a 66 percent reduction of a feral cat colony over 11 years. While this program takes time, starving animals will continue to breed and increase the population.
This man should never have been jailed for feeding stray cats. The law needs to be done away with and one that actually addresses the feral cat problem itself needs to be put in its place. A ‘trap-neuter-release’ program would help reduce the feral cat population over time and stop punishing innocent people for treating animals with compassion. Ask Gainsville’s mayor to apologize for trying to fine this man and encourage the town to adopt a better policy for dealing with stray animals.
Dear Mayor Goldsworthy,
A 76-year-old man was jailed for nine days after refusing to pay fines related to illegally feeding stray cats. While the law is intended to reduce potentially harmful stray cat populations, it does little to address the root of the problem because hungry cats will continue to breed.
‘Trap-neuter-release’ programs have seen great success in many other towns, as these programs address the often rapid reproduction rates of stray cats. ‘Trap-neuter-release’ programs take time before they are effective, but are far less cruel than the alternative of letting the animals starve and hoping they die out eventually.
Please use your influence as mayor to address Gainesville’s ineffective method of dealing with stray cats by apologizing to the man who was jailed and by encouraging the town to adopt a better policy. While it may take time to have effect, a new plan will do far more to address the stray cat problem and will stop punishing people who are trying to help.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Scott Granneman via Flickr