Hillsborough Co TNR = WTF?

When Hillsborough Co Animal Services in Florida gained official political support for its new Trap Neuter Return program in May, the news was widely celebrated. But this week Janet Gill, a caregiver in Hillsborough Co who maintains a colony of TNR’d cats, sent me two of three notices she says she’s received from Hillsborough Co Animal Services in recent weeks. Read them and weep.

First notice received by colony caregiver in Hillsborough Co:

1st notice hillsborough co

Third notice received by colony caregiver in Hillsborough Co:

3rd notice hillsborough co

If the Hillsborough Co pound’s plan is to have a TNR program and then beat compassionate TNR colony caregivers over the head with their citation book, I’d say their plan sucks.  Like some other things at the pound.

33 thoughts on “Hillsborough Co TNR = WTF?

  1. Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO very much for the work you are doing . . . It would appear that the only way to bring positive change is to shine light on what is really happening! BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS!!!!

  2. They are obviously a nuisance for neighbors and if you’re feeding them then they are legally your pets and your responsibility. This has nothing to do with TNVR which does not encourage feeding feral animals which causes them to congregate to the area and stay put for the free meals.

    1. Stephanie,

      TNR is based on the premise that a maintained colony reduces the feral cat population over time. A maintained colony allows caregivers to trap and neuter any cats that may have been missed in the initial go-round. A maintained colony allows caregivers to spot new kittens and remove them while they can be tamed and before they reproduce. There are other benefits as well but without caregivers, the TNR’d colonies are not being maintained. I am not sure why you say it has nothing to do with TNR.

      1. You have got to be kidding…dont feed them? So they die of starvation? Wow That is pretty heartless as the idea is to get the kittens spay and neuter and hopefully socialize them and find good homes. As for the older cats, they are spayed, neutered, and shots to be given. If they are maintained then there will be no more kittens born and the colony will grow smaller as they move on or pass away. btw for the most part the feeding comes out of our own pocket. I personally will clean up after the cats as they have their favorite kitty box areas. They also keep away rodents such as rats and mice as well especially where I live. They have personalities and being a caregiver allows us to see that and to get any that are ill removed. As mentioned, it does take time.. frankly truth be told if the so called owners TOOK RESPONSIBILITY for spaying and neutering their pets in the FIRST PLACE then this would not be such a big issue! The fault lies in their laps, not these poor animals that did not ask to be born and certainly did not ask to be starved if it were up to you and live in the elements and die at a early age compared to cats that are taken care of and live indoors.
        Ignorance is a dangerous thing!~

  3. Those cats would be a much bigger nuisance for the neighbors if they weren’t trapped and neutered. This is the best way to naturally and humanely reduce the number of cats congregating in an area. If you don’t trap and vet them, or feed them, then they can become more of a nuisance trying to survive. Sad, but too many see community cats as pests and they aren’t! They are cats who already have a home and I am delighted that there are compassionate caregivers who will do what they can to ensure their safety and well-being.
    As far as Hillsborough Co – wth? Talk about sending mixed messages!!!!!

    1. I’m all for a TNVR, heck I’ve brought in a couple to Hillsborough myself (for all the lovely people assuming someone that thinks feral cats are a nuisance kills them). I never saw a feral cat about until the neighbors were just “feeding a few” and suddenly there’s a good 20 of them in the cul de sac. You can set your watch by their feeding time.
      I would be happy to see them moved elsewhere still. They cause issues, they are doing no service being there (about the only potential pro is pest control and pest control has been done without them), and they disrupt the environment.

      1. Oh yeah, pest control by chemicals? That’s much better for the environment and wildlife, alike. Perhaps the neighbors simply need to change the area where they are feeding. Have you suggested that? It’s safer for the cats and better for the neighborhood. People in my neighborhood cause many more issues than the ferals around here. And the worst problems are owned cats who are allowed outdoors without supervision, food or shelter. Cats fault? No, it’s a human problem. Like most things are . . .

      2. And, in my case, one of the neighbors who supposedly complained (although I think it’s possible that only one neighbor is complaining but has given a different address with each complaint to make it seem as though all of my neighbors are complaining) has a cat who has recently started eating with my colony cats. I would never chase the cat away.

  4. Damn, that’s a mess. So you care for and maintain a colony at your own expense and they want to fine you for it? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    And you know it’s all about a neighbor who “just wants those cats gone”. Doesn’t work like that, jackass. Without maintenance, you’ve got intact males yowling and fighting all night long. You’ve got urine marking EVERYWHERE. Kill them all and new ones move in. Oh, but until they do, you’ve got a rodent explosion, chewing your wires and getting into your car. Dumbass.

  5. I maintained a feral colony that was TNR years ago.The process does work. They all eventually died off. The last one a 9 yr old male I had to put down yesterday morning. I went out to feed and water him and he was screaming in pain. I immediately scooped him up (this would not have been possible had he been normal) put him in a carrier and off to the vet we went. The vet told me he had multiple blood clots and congestive heart failure. He was in severe pain and dying. I agreed with the vet to let this poor soul to cross the bridge to be with his colony.

    1. Thank you for helping.

      This is another benefit of maintaining a colony – being able to offer help in an emergency. But I guess the “nuisance” camp doesn’t think that’s a benefit.

      On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:42 AM, YesBiscuit!

    2. Bless your heart – I cannot imagine what a horrid death he would have faced had you not been there for him. These people who just want to do catch and kill don’t have a clue. Mikken said it best – dumbass!!!

  6. A few things for the “want ’em gone” crowd to realize:
    (1) We ALL want fewer cats. And the only proven way to do that is through TNR. So I don’t care if you think cats eat a bazillion birds or if you think their feces will cause you to die. Fewer cats is fewer cats is fewer cats. Removing them only to kill them causes a “vacuum effect” with more, unvaccinated, unneutered cats moving in to take the available space — demonstrated with any number of species, not just cats!!! Even better, the cat caregivers are footing the bill!!!!
    (2) You may think that feeding them attracts them. NO, they are there regardless. The people feeding them only attract them AT FEEDING TIME, which is critical to keeping an eye out for unneutered ones and catching them to get them fixed and vaccinated. THE CATS ARE THERE, NO MATTER WHAT.
    (3) Nearly ALL of the problems associated with cats stems from them being unfixed: yowling, fighting, marking, roaming, having tons of litters, and more kitties.
    (4) The best “buffer” to disease is to have a population of vaccinated, fixed cats who are far less likely to spread disease. Herd medicine suggests that you need 80% vaccinated to see disease prevention. Cats are not a vector species for rabies, but like humans, they can be its victims. So having them vaccinated is good for people and their own pets.
    (5) What do you think you will have running around in your garages, sheds, under your homes/porches, in your garbage if there are not cats there? Skunks, mice, rats, raccoons, and any number of other wildlife. And skunks and raccoons ARE a vector species for rabies.
    (6) I just pose this question: If birds sit sit in trees and poop on your car, is it the responsibility of government to eradicate all the birds because of this? Don’t we have to learn to live with some degree of other life form amongst us? If they use your garden as a litter box, then stop making up lovely litter boxes. Use pine cone mulch, or put metal toy jacks in the soil so it isn’t comfy for the cats, or add some old rose-bush branches with thorns — something to discourage them. You can even get sprinkler systems with motion detection that turns on when the cats come near — AND you water your garden at the same time.

  7. I hate people who hate feral cats so much I have absolutely no respect for them or what they want. Makes me so angry I can’t even say what I really feel. But don’t these idiots understand TNR means you continue to feed the colony?!

  8. We have similar issues in Bayonne, NJ. We secured a PetSmart Charities grant of $16,500 to TNR 250 cats in a targeted area of Bayonne, but the City Health Dept is still giving tickets to people for feeding cats.

  9. This is just sad. I agree with the people who have said that you know its due to someone complaining “we just want them gone”. How many times on this page have we seen stories about a neighbor who thinks its okay to shoot/kill a pet because it happened to cross their property? Such ignorance. As for the feral cats, I dont know, I would be doing the same thing. I couldnt imagine not feeding them. I figure we need them in order to keep the rodent population down and so on and so fourth and they could either be fed to do that or they could be starving. Id choose the former.

  10. There is a TNR program in highlands county the sponsor, not county has spay or neutered over 1400 yet animal control refuse to accept the topped ear, catches and kills.

  11. Janet’s colony cats are all spayed/neutered and vaccinated. They are well fed and well cared for. She is being responsible and caring for them. Why are they a nuisance in your opinion?

    1. Not a nuisance in my opinion! Bless Janet and all of the other caregivers taking care of these wonderful community cats!

  12. Just to update you all on the status of this matter, one of my Facebook friends forwarded the blog entry to someone who is friends with Commissioner Ken Hagan (who, incidentally, is up for reelection this year), and her response was to post her email to Mr. Hagan (which comprises the next six quoted paragraphs):

    “My email to Ken: “Please tell me the BS, contradicting part of the ordinance that makes us TNVR caregivers “harborers” (or “owners”) is being changed? The county can’t support TNVR w/o also supporting feeding; the two go hand-in-hand.

    I asked Janet (the one referenced at the link above) if she contacted you or Ian, and this is her response, “No. I received a courtesy notice to call MJ, which was my second notice so I did. I thought it would get straightened out. I felt it would be a good conversation. Instead I felt worse after I hung up with her. She made me think that they would be coming back if the neighbors continue to complain and that they would take the cats. She said if we don’t like it then we need to get with lawmakers to change the reading of the ordinance.”

    Is there going to be an exemption to caretakers who are feeding ear-notched cats on their own property (and on other properties, with the owners’ permission)? I really hope so.

    Also, instead of threatening people who are feeding non-ear-notched cats with fines, it seems wiser to me that the county would tell people they have 30 days to get the cats spayed/vaccinated/notched (and provide contact info to ACT/HSTB). If you give feeders the option to allow feeding if they TNR the cats in lieu of a fine, that will mean MORE cats getting spayed/vaccinated…. a win-win.

    The way it’s being handled now, when threats/fines are issued, some people continue sneaking around to feed both spayed and non-spayed cats. And while it’s true some will comply with the threats and stop feeding, that’s downright pointless and ineffective bc it just means the same un-spayed cats will move on in search of food and multiply in someone else’s neighborhood.

    I think my head might explode at any second bc I am so tired of this fight to perform a service to the community. Ssoooo, I’m hoping you can prevent a gory mess by clarifying what the TNVR-friendly ordinance changes will be, and when they will take effect.””

    What this woman appears to not understand is that all of my colony cats are fixed, vaccinated (which supposedly is understood but because some don’t understand, many people now add a “V” to TNR to make it TNVR so that there is hopefully no misunderstanding that TNR also includes vaccinations), and ear-tipped (also understood). No response yet, but I heard that the blog piece was forwarded to the local media. If others are also being targeted for harassment by Hillsborough County, then I hope the local media jumps on it.

    Thank you very much for bringing to light this very confusing and contradictory position on TNR taken by Hillsborough County and Hillsborough County Animal Services in which citizens are encouraged and chastised if you don’t, cited and fined if you do!

    1. Thank you for the update Janet. This woman is an ally. Even if you are concerned she doesn’t understand you’ve done right by all your colony cats, she understands how idiotic it is for the pound to behave in this manner AND SHE’S GOING TO BAT FOR YOU AND ALL THE COMMUNITY CATS. Hang on to her with both hands. It’s not easy to find someone in government who both understands the issues and is willing to take action to help citizens caring for animals. Please let us know if there are further developments.

      On Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 10:08 AM, YesBiscuit!

  13. Oh, no, I wasn’t complaining and, quite frankly, she is the only person among all of my TNR acquaintances who has offered any meaningful help at all. You get all kinds of TNR help in this area until the authorities are involved and then they all suddenly disappear, perhaps in fear for their own colonies. I can’t help wonder that if I am being harassed by Hillsborough County for feeding cats that I have TNR’d, what might be the penalty for feeding unaltered, unvaccinated cats? I’m not sure, but handcuffs and hard prison time come to mind!

    Thanks again!

  14. Depositing on my FB page. This is utter
    I have personally corresponded with Janet and she is tops with her care taking practices. She never leaves any feeding dishes out after she feeds. She is feeding on her OWN property.
    She just has a cat hater for a neighbor- a renter- and it seems unfortunately with other news reports a guy who was brought in to head HCAS that is either a good first act or a plant by the group trying to stop Feral freedom.

    I found a letter sent to local elected by Ryan Clinton in Austin calling this guy out on sending dogs from Austin to a high kill shelter in Houston when there were several reputable orgs stepping up to the plate
    To take them. Ian Halett needs to go to Nathan School.

  15. Kittypurr, thanks for your kind remarks and the interesting link! I posted a follow up comment to Mr. Clinton’s Facebook email, albeit two years later. It is depressing to know that Mr. Hallett is still up to his same old tricks.

  16. Most of the conflicts that develop over neuter/return concern ill-advised feeding programs, not the neuter/return work itself. What feeding mostly does is convert nocturnal rodent hunters, whom nobody notices, into diurnal bird hunters, who hunt for recreation while awaiting their regular food handouts. This doesn’t help anything in any way: doesn’t help the cats, who already had adequate food sources or would not have been there, doesn’t help to control the rodent population, doesn’t help the birds, doesn’t help to reduce birder resistance to neuter/return, and doesn’t help to demonstrate the efficacy of neuter/return, because even if the neutering reduces the numbers of cats, the feeding increases their visibility — meaning that in most people’s perception, there are more cats.

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