The TNR Ruling in LA: What Does It Mean, What Doesn’t It Mean?
On December 4, 2009, Superior Court judge McKnew ruled that the City of Los Angeles’ modest support of the Trap Neuter and Return of feral cats within the city should have been reviewed in compliance with CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) before being implemented. The ruling was followed by a court-ordered injunction that currently prevents the city from supporting TNR in any way until the city’s TNR program passes a CEQA review.
Here is an FAQ on what this means on a practical level:
1. Is TNR now illegal?
Answer: No. TNR is legal for private citizens and rescue organizations to carry out. The only difference is that the city is currently prohibited from supporting our TNR efforts.
2. Can I still get city vouchers to offset the cost of spaying or neutering feral cats?
Answer: Currently, a private resident can get up to three vouchers for spaying or neutering cats that live on their own property. These vouchers must be obtained directly from a city shelter.
3. If I have a question or problem related to feral cats in Los Angeles or if I need to borrow a feral cat trap, whom should I contact?
Answer: Contact FixNation, Stray Cat Alliance, Kitten Rescue, Actors & Others for Animals, Best Friends Catnippers, or one of the many local cat rescue organizations that you may already be familiar with.
4. How did this lawsuit happen?
Answer: A group of conservancy organizations that are concerned about declining song-bird populations and the potential impact of feral cats on the environment sued the city for non-compliance with CEQA, and the court found in their favor.
5. What is being done to correct the situation?
Answer: A coalition of animal organizations has formed to work with the city of Los Angeles to re-establish TNR as an important strategy in any effective and humane program aimed at managing and controlling feral cat populations while complying with CEQA. The coalition includes: Actors & Others for Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, Feral Cat Caretakers’ Coalition, FixNation, Found Animals Foundation, Kitten Rescue, and Stray Cat Alliance.
6. Will Judge McKnew’s ruling be appealed by the City of LA?
Answer: No. The City Attorney has concluded that because the law precludes any new evidence or arguments being introduced on appeal, that re-trying the same case on the existing court record would likely have the same result with the added consequence of establishing the ruling state-wide, while now it only affects the city of Los Angeles. The coalition has hired an attorney who specializes in CEQA, and they agree with the City Attorney’s decision not to appeal. Rather, the coalition will work with the city to develop a TNR policy while observing CEQA requirements.
7. What can I do to help?
Answer: Please forward this FAQ to concerned family and friends, and if you can, please donate to your favorite feral cat program and sign the coalition’s declaration of support for TNR in Los Angeles. (Click here to view and sign the Coalition Declaration)