Local News

Group wants Wake County to stop euthanizing feral cats

Posted February 2, 2012

— A volunteer group trying to help control the feral cat population in Apex is taking Wake County to court to get it to stop trapping and euthanizing the animals in the town.

Operation Catnip has filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against the county after animal control officers trapped a dozen strays in an Apex neighborhood last week and euthanized 10 of them.

The group says it had an unwritten agreement with former Wake County Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda to try out a program in Apex to trap, neuter, vaccinate and then return the cats to their surroundings.

"Tommy Esqueda knew it might not be acceptable right off the bat to make a (Trap-Neuter-Return)-friendly ordinance," Operation Catnip President Lisa Krestaluze said. "This was going to be a pilot program, so we could prove that it worked, instead of the normal trap-and-kill method that didn't work and never has."

Esqueda could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

County attorney Scott Warren, however, says that the Wake County Board of Commissioners never approved any agreement. Animal control wants to euthanize the animals, he says, because they are not adoptable.

"I don’t agree that they should be killed or euthanized. They are healthy. They have a home. It may be an outdoor home, but they are surviving. They have a food source. They have shelter," Krestaluze said. "Cats have lived out doors for 10,000 years. So just because they are not social, I don’t believe that they deserve to die."

Operation Catnip on Thursday did drop a request for a temporary restraining order that could have prohibited the Wake County Animal Center from putting down the two other cats. Both sides reached an agreement shortly before a court hearing that the animals would be turned over to a volunteer.

The group says it hopes it can reopen a line of communication with the county to help reduce the number of animals being killed.

Wake County being sued over stray cats Wake County being sued over stray cats

"We do feel happy that there is a lot of communication open, and we are planning to have some talks," Krestaluze said. "(I'm) not sure how that will go, but we’re just happy to have a commitment for an open line of communication right now."

Since September, Operation Catnip says, it has been able to spay or neuter 47 cats because of a $20,000 grant from PetSmart Foundation. It wants to expand the program to areas in the county where there are high numbers of calls to animal control.

Wake County's animal control policies have come under fire in recent months over how it determines which animals to euthanize.

In November, the animal shelter put down an 8-month-old Labrador-hound mix called Sassy hours after it was featured as the pet of the day on WRAL-TV's noon newscast.

Wake County Animal Center officials cited an upper respiratory infection as its reason for euthanizing the animal and said that putting the puppy on the news was a mistake.

That came on the heels of volunteer complaints that the shelter's kill rate had soared in recent months because of a pneumonia and distemper outbreak.

The public outcry from Sassy's death and questions about its policies have prompted the center to review and change some of its policies.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • hockeygalnc Feb 3, 2012

    Animalkind is a program for lower income households to get their dogs or pet cats altered. Check out Operation Catnip www.operationcatnip.org , Alley Cats & Angels of NC www.alleycatsandangels.org SNAP-NC www.snap-nc.org POP-NC www.pop-nc.com and the SPCA of Wake County for low cost (or even close to free if you qualify) spay/neuter programs not only for pet cats but for ferals. I am a board member of Alley Cats & Angels and we have a $60 voucher program. If you can't afford $60 per cat for spay/neuter and vaccinations you can fill out our financial assistance form and we can subsidize a voucher for you on a sliding fee scale. We have an "Alter an Alley Cat Fund" that helps us get people's pet cats, as well as ferals someone may be caring for altered and vaccinated. We are very lucky in the Triangle area to have these resources.

  • ConcernedNCC Feb 3, 2012

    itsmyownopinion: I just looked at that site, and it's for low-income families to fix their personal cats, not for use as a place to fix feral cats.

  • ConcernedNCC Feb 3, 2012

    TNR, if done well, eventually eliminates the feral cat population as they die without reproducing. I'm all for it, but I have to say that the argument that "the normal trap-and-kill method...didn't work and never has" is a little off, because if the same level of trapping were to be assumed in both cases, they would be equally viable to reduce the feral cat population, where the TK method would have more imediate results.

  • itsmyownopinion Feb 3, 2012

    I don't have time to read all the posts to see if this has been mentioned, but if you find a feral cat, check this out.

  • timbo10.0 Feb 3, 2012

    "I agree, and they all seem to have the word "cat" in their usernames for some reason."

    Yep, probably the same person agreeing with themselves. LOL.

  • brandonsnakewhisperer Feb 3, 2012

    So, experts around the world say we need to get rid of the feral/outdoor cat problem. Cat people say we need to keep them happy and healthy. I'm going to follow the people who spend their lives learning about ecological balance. Also, what is the argument the cat agency used to propose this pilot program in the first place, because thousands of experts around the world would disagree with it.

  • timbo10.0 Feb 3, 2012

    "well said chattycat and suncat to timbo. He must lead a very sad existence. There have been a lost of posts here from people that have no idea what they are talking about."

    Really? Because I use actual facts to support my opinion and "the cat people" don't?

    Not one advocate of TNR has addressed the carnage cats to do native species.

    Tap, tap, tap; I'm still waiting for a direct response?

  • Hans Feb 3, 2012

    "There have been a lost of posts here from people that have no idea what they are talking about." - lmwcat18

    I agree, and they all seem to have the word "cat" in their usernames for some reason.

  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 3, 2012

    All of you talking about compassion, did all those species of birds not deserve compassion?

    Only when they are cut up into little pieces by flying into windfarm windmills, then it's a problem.

  • chattycat Feb 3, 2012

    @lmwcat18 - thanks, and yes timbo must lead a very sad existence. There are a lot of people that I think are in the same boat as Timbo. They really need to crawl out of their square box and live a little.