PA Township Plans Weekend Cat Killing Spree

In Cumberland Co, PA, a toddler was reportedly attacked by a rabid feral cat.  The local ABC affiliate reports the kid “is expected to be fine”.  In response, the South Newton Township contracted a company called The CritterGetter to trap and kill cats within the township on September 7 and 8, 2013.

South Newton Township is advising all residents to keep their pets indoors during the two trapping days.

No kidding.  But if your beloved pet does get out and end up in a trap?  Sucks being you I guess.  Sucks even more being your cat since he’ll be killed by some method not stated in the news piece.

In addition to the inevitability of killing owned pets during the planned two day kill-fest, feral cats have a right to live and should not be killed in a misguided response to an unfortunate and very rare incident.  If the township is going to the trouble of trapping them, why not vaccinate the cats for rabies, neuter them and return them in order to make a meaningful contribution toward protecting public health and reducing the cats’ numbers over time?

After public outcry, The CritterGetter has backed out of the job.  And pressure is mounting for local community leaders to cancel the killings and come up with an alternative plan.

Alley Cat Allies, claiming to be the nation’s largest advocacy group for cats, has offered a free rabies vaccination clinic for all animals in the township if supervisors rescind their order to catch and kill feral cats.

Volunteers are also trying to put together a TNR program in the township.

If anyone sees an update on this story, please share.

(Thank you Arlene for the link.)

21 thoughts on “PA Township Plans Weekend Cat Killing Spree

  1. I guess the good burgers of this location don’t think far enough ahead to the vermin explosion they’ll have if all the feral cats and some owned cats are killed. Prepare for the plague, folks, because that’s how the plague happened in Europe – cats were killed, rat population exploded, fleas on rats carried the plague.

    1. A good point that has hopefully been made repeatedly to local leaders.

      This notion that no bad thing must ever happen to any human is bizarre to me. The typical government response – some form of, if any bad thing DOES happen, we must pound it into dust – truly frightens me. I’m glad people are speaking up in this case but I don’t know if it will be enough. One of the forums I came across in researching this story was an area hunting forum. Because cat killing=hunting, somehow. There will always be many voices piping up in support of any proposed cat killing spree. It’s up to compassionate people to explain the ethical and scientific reasons why it’s a bad idea.

      On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM, YesBiscuit!

      1. I live in the state of Pennsylvania in the area when this all happened to tonight on Channel 21 News the people do not want them killed so the township is not going to get involved , the cats are not going to be killed.Paws one of the rescue groups that we have in the area is going to capture 30 give them their rabies shots and spayed and neutered and release. I’m sure many of the other rescues are going to step in and help out. The little girl that was bit by the cat did have rabies. This all happened because one family left there cats out that were not fixed.

  2. did they confirm rabies in the cat? What are the statistics for rabid animals in that region? Some areas of the country have so few cases it just might not warrant such a kill.

    1. Apparently it had been confirmed: . “Fears have been mounting since the Pennsylvania Department of Health determined that a cat in the county tested positive for rabies on June 20. The cat attack on the 4-year-old boy took place when he was in a group of preschoolers.”

      The post also offers some (vague) stats about cats and rabies in PA/in:
      “Cats in general are the No. 1 domestic-animal cause of human exposure to rabies, and the highest risk are feral cats because they have increased exposure to wildlife and are less likely to be vaccinated,” said Nicole L. C. Bucher, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. “People should never approach an animal unknown to them.” Rabies is being found increasingly in cats. For the first time in Pennsylvania, the number of rabid cats in 2009 surpassed the number of any rabid wild animal group other than the raccoon. Cats account for about 10 percent of animals testing positive for rabies in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania led the nation in the number of cases of rabies in domestic animals in 2010, the most recent year for complete data, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. It had more rabid cats than any other state from 2008 to 2010.”

  3. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid the idea of doing a mass murder because someone says a cat had rabies but there was never any proof. The comment that was made by Judy holds true feral cats are so skittish it stays clear of humans and feral cats are so hard to catch anyway. What ever happened to TNR and at the time of neuter vaccinations can be done. Ever wonder what happens to all the vermin’s feral cats take care of them. Oh, yes I do remember you really can’t fix STUPID.

  4. I take care of feral cats and they do everything possible to avoid human contact, even after years of care. Perhaps the toddler thought a rabid raccoon was a cat? I so hope they find a better way to deal with this. And, yes, it does seem as though “kill them” is the mantra for all kinds of animal/human interactions. What a pathetic response.

  5. Here is a petition:

    There has never been a feline-specific rabies variant detected, so it’s not likely the cat colony is maintaining it. The rabid cat would probably have acquired the infection from one of the wild animal reservoir hosts. If rabies was confirmed, they should be able to type the exact species-specific variant. TNR with vaccination would take care of any future problems, and bait containing vaccine would be the best response to eradicating the virus in the wild animals. (I don’t have medical or veterinary training, I’ve just read a lot about this.)

  6. Re: comments about feral cats being skittish – certainly, but rabies alters the behavior of infected animals (hence ‘mad dog’, etc.). I agree that ‘kill them all!’ is a depressing response, but also find the reluctance to believe that it *could* have been a feral (or stray? I’m seeing both used in articles about the situation) strange. I’m not an expert, but it seems to me that if one’s going to support feral/free-roaming/community cats as a better alternative to the constant killing of feral cats, one kinda has to acknowledge that this sort of thing is a risk. With a good TNR program, a lot less of a risk, but …

    (Mass t-vaccinate-r, at least, sounds better than mass trap-and-kill – is ACA offering that or just a general free vaccination clinic? It seems a bit unclear from the articles I’ve seen… One problem is that infected cats can be asymptomatic for weeks, potentially even a year or more; vaccination won’t fix that. But then again, nobody’s arguing for exterminating all the local raccoons, foxes, bats, etc. either….)

  7. Just wondering why, since confirmed rabies in feral cats seems to be a problem in PA, they don’t do a massive trap-vaccinate-neuter-return. Doing some prevention would probably be more effective than being reactive. How many healthy cats will also be killed? What do they do in PA regarding wildlife?
    I hope the authorities will find a better way to deal with this problem.

    1. And if this is one cat out of so many, the catch and kill seems to be . . . overkill. Sort of like dog bite statistics that can be and are used to “prove” that certain breeds are all dangerous.

    2. I know that PA does rabies drop baiting for raccoons. But yes, clearly they need TNR if cats and rabies is such an issue.

    1. I feel safer with feral cats then I do knowing how many criminals are walking the streets and nothing getting done but letting the child molester and the rapist out of prison to go and molest children and to continue to rape women. I really think people need to focus on more important matters.

  8. I understand that there had been a cat test positive on a different bite months before, but that cat of course was killed. Whatever bit this child has according to the article at the time I read it had not been caught. So rounding up thousands of cats and killing them would not guarantee that this particular cat was caught.
    Second this area of PA- according to reports has a very high incidence of rabies in wildlife. One article stated one of the highest in the state for years. So they are obviously not using the pellitized rabies for wildlife- and therefore killing all the cats will NOT stop the rabies vector there until they get the wildlife rabies under control.
    As far as the CDC report- I suggest you go to Vox Felina and read Peter Wolfs scientific review of the CDCs garbage in/out on this. I would NOT be at all surprised if the ABC has not made a huge contribution to the CDC as they have for USFWS to get their buy in for their witch hunt on cats.

    1. Not sure how that happened, but glad it did. Thanks for the good news for these cats. Nice way to start the day!

      BTW, are you in MI?

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