BOARD OF COUNTY
Calvin D Harris
Karen Williams See I
Kenneth T, Welch E Welch Agnew, Jr, DVM, MPH
Dewayne G, Taylor, DVM, MPH
Assistant Director of Veterinary Services
TO: The Honorable Chairman and Members of the Board of County Commissioners
FROM: Robert S. LoS"'" CO""~t'"
DATE: November 16,2009
SUBJECT: Feral & Free-Roaming Cats Work Study Group Recommendations
On October 14, 2008, during a workshop meeting the Board of County Commissioners agreed that the feral cat
population is a problem in Pinellas County and decided it would be prudent to have a feral cat work group to fonnulate
recommendations the Board could take to lessen the impact of feral and free roaming cats,
At the request ofthe Board, Barbara Snow, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Pinellas began organizing a
work group to develop recommendations for the Board's consideration, Members were recruited from various
stakeholders as well as expelis on the issues sUlTounding the impact of feral and free roaming cats, Where there was a
lack of expertise, outside sources were invited to make presentations to the work group to aid them in their mission, The
group's members analyzed a wealth of information including scientific papers, legal opinions and public concems. They
brought to bear years of experience and unique individual perspectives as they labored to accomplish the task Attached
for your consideration is the result ofthe group's effOlis.
County staff recommends the Board accept the recommendations of the working group,
PLEASE ADDRESS REPLY TO:
12450 Ulmcrton Road
L"go. H 33774
Pilone: (727) 582-2600
Fox: (727) 582-2637
October 28, 2009
Commission Chairman: Calvin D. Harris
Commission Vice Chairman: Karen Williams Seel
Commissioner Nancy Bostock
Commissioner Neil Brickfield
Commissioner Susan Latvala
Commissioner Jolm Morroni
Commissioner Kenneth T, Welch
County Adrnirnstrator: Robert LaSala
Assistant County Admirlistrator: James Dates
Pinellas County Courthouse and Adminish'ative Building
315 Court Sh'eet, Room 501
Clearwater, Florida 33756
Dear Commissioners and County Adrnirnstrator:
Attention: ML James Dates, Assistant County Admirlistrator
My colleagues and I irl the Citizens' Working Study Group formed in October 2008 hereinafter,
called "The Group", have appreciated tins opporturnty to study tile issues, problems,
prevention and solutions regardirlg tile feral cat population in Pinellas County,
Members of tl1e Group are all stakeholders impacted by tile feral cat population and have
demonstrated a broad range of professional expertise and experience on tins topic. The
members of the Group were chosen from Pinellas County Anin1al Services, non-profit animal
shelters, animal welfare groups, environmental non-profit groups, tile Pirlellas County
Department of Envir'onmental Management, tl1e Pinellas County Healtll Department, national
and local feral cat advocacy gr'oups, and a wildlife officer licensed in Florida who is experienced
in urban wildlife, In addition, we included several practicing veterinarians in Pinellas County,
one who is a specialist in feline medicirle and two who are affiliated wi til tile Pinellas County
Veterinary Medical Association, We included two experts from outside Pinellas County who
served as consultants, One is an attorney in land use and environmental law who is skilled in
tile formation of public policy and tile otller is a veterinarian witl1 tl1e University of Florida
College Of Veterinary Medicine who is tile founder of a successful prototype of a feral cat
spay/neuter progr'am at tl1e University, Two assistant Pinellas County attorneys also were
assigned to the Group to discuss county policies and answer legal questions from tile Group's
In tllis folder is our response to your request tllat we gatller information, discuss tile issues
involved and make recommendations to improve tile situation for tile cats and everyone
irwolved, We appreciate you reviewirlg tllis information before you make any decision
regarding tile future of feral cats in Pinellas County.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me at the Humane
Society of Pinellas at 727-797-7722, Ext. 224 or via email at email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you, sincerely, for tl1is opportunity to serve you,
Barbara Snow, Facilitator'
Feral & Free-Roaming Cats
Working Study Group
Pinellas County Board
Citizens Working Study Group
Feral & Free-Roaming Cats Report
Table of Contents
Part I: Introduction: Status of Feral & Free-Roaming Cats
Part II: Mission
Part III: Delineation of Tasks & Findings of the Group
Part IV: Recommendations
Part V: Summary
List of Group Members
In Appreciation to Elizabeth (Liz) Warren
1) National Animal Control Association (NACA) Policy
Statement, Community Cat Management
2) Pinellas County Veterinary Medical Association
Statement on Free-Roaming and Feral Cats
Part I: INTRODUCTION: STATUS OF FERAL & FREE-ROAMING CATS
Peter Marsh, Director of Solutions to Overpopulation of Pets, a non-profit Group that
operates New Hampshire's largest, private, neutering assistance program, states:
"Americans keep twice as many cats and dogs per capita as the English,
four times as many as the Germans, and more than five times as many
as the Japanese. In addition to the 73 million dogs and 90 million cats
living in households here, some believe that the number of un-owned,
free-roaming cats rivals that of the household cat population and 97.6%
are intact. Given that a high percentage of household cats are sterilized,
the birth of kittens added to the population of cats in general, and in
Animal Shelters, is directly related to the feral and free-roaming cats."
"Feral Cat" is a term that describes existence and refers to unsocialized cats either born
wild or that revert to the wild following abandonment for a period of time. These cats
live outside without a residence or responsible owner.
The acronym "TNR" means either Trap/Neuter/Return or Trap/Neuter/Release, a
series of steps in a program to reduce the number of feral cats and kittens. In this
program, feral & free-roaming cats are humanely trapped, neutered or spayed,
vaccinated against rabies, and returned to their previous outdoor environment or
to another location.
The topic of feral cats is recognized nationally as a very emotional one with experts on
both sides of this issue.
Although accurate documentation does not exist to verify the estimated number
of feral cats in Pinellas County, it is believed to be over 100,000. (See Attachment 2,
PCVMA). There are no estimates for free-roaming cats in Pinellas County.
Documentation does exist for the intake of cats by the County's three main Shelters:
Pinellas County Animal Services, 2) SPCA of Tampa Bay and 3) the Humane Society of Pinellas.
Documentation also exists for the number of complaints to shelters and requests for
help or rescue of cats, the number of spays and neuters done for the public by those
shelters and the number of cat licenses sold.
Formation of Work Study Group
In October 2008, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners approved a Citizen's Working Study
Group, hereinafter called the Group, to study the issues regarding the feral/
free-roaming cat population in Pinellas County and to come up with some solutions to help reduce the
number of feral/free roaming cats. Elizabeth Warren, Assistant County Administrator was asked to
assist this group and Barbara Snow, Executive Director,
Humane Society of Pinellas offered and was approved to serve as facilitator.
Members from a wide variety of concerned groups of stakeholders were recruited and the work of
this group continued through October 2009.
PART II: MISSION
The members of the Group reached consensus on the following Mission Statement:
The Feral Cat & Free-Roaming Working Study Group of the
Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners will:
• study the problems relating to the impact of feral/free-roaming cats upon Pinellas County
• gather information from concerned stakeholders who are
impacted by the issue
• provide a public forum for citizen input on the issue
• make viable, consensus-based recommendations to the
Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.
The Group was mindful of the following issues:
• Animal Welfare
• Best Practices
• Budgetary Constraints
• Environmental Issues
• Health and Safety Issues
• Social Issues
The Group met for the first time on February 18, 2009. A Feral Cat Public Forum was held on AprillS,
2009 at the Pinellas County Extension to allow citizens of Pinellas County to express their thoughts
and opinions on this topic. Speakers were asked to identify themselves and any affiliation they might
have prior to speaking. Email regarding this issue was also solicited from the general pUblic.
Part III: DELINIATION OF TASKS AND FINDINGS OF THE GROUP
Delineation of Tasks
The Group determined that they would work on the following tasl(s:
1) Develop a Mission Statement
2) Disclose each individual's background, experiences, thoughts & feelings about feral/free-
3) Identify the problems associated with feral/free-roaming cats
4) Identify solutions to those problems and how to prevent them
5) Identify who would be responsible for implementing the selected
6) Draft recommendations for the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners that
would effectively and humanely reduce the feral & free-roaming cat population and
prevent population growth
The Group researched Florida cities and counties similar in size to Pinellas County to determine if a
feral/free-roaming cat program were in place, who was responsible for its implementation and if
these feral/free-roaming cat programs were successful. Responses were mixed. Some programs were
run by volunteer caregivers and supportive veterinarians; others were run by local, non-profit animal
groups and municipal animal agencies. Some anticipated success; others said it was too early to tell.
The Group found that it was not necessary to amend the Pinellas County Animal code that currently
defines a cat as Felis cofus (domestic cat) as all cats have the same DNA and are treated as 'property'
giving them protection within Florida State Law.
Part IV: RECOMMENDATIONS
The Citizens' Working Group on Feral and Free-Roaming Cats presents the following
Recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. Pinellas County. FL:
1. Approve the Groups pursuit of Feral.and Free-Roaming Cat Initiatives in Pinellas County,
Florida that accomplishes the following:
• Humanely reduces the current feral/ free-roaming cat population,
• Prevents free-roaming cats from becoming feral,
• Encourages and elevates the status of feral and free-roaming cats back to that of a
companion/pet with a residence and responsible owner/family.
2. Promote an education campaign that emphaSizes the following points: necessity of early
spay/neuter (by 5 months of age for kittens), benefits (to the cats, wildlife, and
community) of Ileeping cats indoors, and the availability of low cost spay/neuter
3. Provide input and advice to this campaign through existing resources (veterinary and
media experts, county websites, flyers in utility bills, etc ... ) in accordance with any
4. Continue to support and potentially expand the current spay/neuter programs of Animal
Services (including the Animobile) directed towards low income citizens. Encourage
humane organizations and local veterinarians to participate in similar programs and
publicly recognize them for their contributions. The BOCC is also highly encouraged to
explore the possibility of sharing county resources such as the Animobile with humane
organizations conducting such programs.
5. Continue to support the current animal control code that requires owners to vaccinate,
license, and prevent their cats from roaming free. This code also discourages leaving food
or garbage outside where it attracts a variety of animals and encourages cats to free-
roam and gravitate toward a feral existence.
6. Encourage private humane organizations to interact with citizens involved in TNR
programs in order to work towards common goals that are in the best interest of the
BOCC and citizens of Pinellas County. (Animal Services will not actively pursue anyone
participating in the Group's cat initiatives; however, it will respond to any and all nuisance
or related calls.) Our Group, on your behalf, has identified these goals as ones that
humanely reduces the total number of free-roaming and feral cats in the County,
encourage responsible ownership of all cats, minimize nuisance complaints attributed to
free roaming cats, protect the health and safety of our citizens, protect the welfare of all
cats as domestic and companion animals and give protection to our wildlife and
encourage a peaceful co-existence between domestic cats and wildlife and among the
residents of Pinellas County.
Part V: SUMMARY
In conclusion, this Citizens' Working Group on Feral and Free-Roaming Cats
has enjoyed this opportunity to conduct research, engage in discussion, elicit
expert and non-expert opinions, and to provide this information along with our
recommendations to the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.
We have served as volunteers on this endeavor and will continue to serve,
if needed to continue a cooperative and collaborative product that encourages
its success in the short term and into the long term future.
List of Group members
1. Frank Hamilton, PhD, Associate professor, Eckerd College w/membership on and
consultant to several local and national feral cat advocacy groups including Alley Cat
2. Dewayne Taylor, DVM Assistant Director, Pinellas County Animal Services
3. Will Davis, Director Pinellas County Environmental Management
4. John Geisler, Pinellas County Health Department
5. Beth lockwood, Executive Director, SPCA Tampa Bay
6. Dave Kandz, St. Petersburg Audubon Society
7. Mike MacDonald, Clearwater Audubon Society
8. Sidney Crawford, Clearwater Audubon Society
9. Rick Stahl, wildlife officer - Pinellas County Justice and Consumer Services
10. Caroline Thomas, DVM Pinellas County Veterinary Medical Association
11. Deborah A. Edwards, DVM, ABVP (feline practice) All Cats Hospital and 1" Chair,
American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Practice Guidelines Committee
12. James lutz, DVM largo Veterinary Hospital, Board member SPCA Tampa Bay, Pinellas
County Veterinary Medical Association
13. Don Woodman, DVM, Animal Hospital Northwood, Board Member Humane Society of
14. Barbara Snow, Facilitator, Executive Director Humane Society of Pinellas
1. Elizabeth Warren, Assistant County Administrator
2. Eugene Agnew, DVM, Director of Animal Services
3. Michelle Wallace, Attorney, Pinellas County
4. D. McCrea, Attorney, Pinellas County
1. Julie levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, College of
Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Operation Catnip, Research Consultant
Feral Cat Spay Neuter Programs.
2. Pamela Jo Hatley, Environmental Attorney, author
1. Connie Brooks, Shelter Operations Manager SPCA Tampa Bay
2. Abigail Appleton, Shelter Manager Humane Society of Pinellas
1. Kay Kennedy, Humane Society of Pinellas
In Appreciation to Elizabeth (liz) Warren
We wish to acknowledge and extend our sincere appreciation to Elizabeth Warren,
Assistant County Administrator for her support, assistance and contributions in
this endeavor. Ms. Warren, in spite of her full plate of routine duties and
assignments in overseeing multiple agencies facing budget reductions, took
on this added role. Ms. Warren set the tone for the process to evolve with
immediate cooperation among the members of our Group and to focus us
on the mission, our tasl(s and the goals we wished to achieve. We wish her
well and much happiness in her new location with her family and continued
success in her future employment.
NATIONAL ANIMAL CONTROL ASSOCIATION POLICY STATEMENT
COMMUNITY CAT MANAGEMENT
NACA Policy Statements 11-29
Extended Animal Control Concerns - Community Cat Management
Animal Control Officers should be empowered to manage all feral, stray and owned cats
within the community. Management may include but is not limited to enactment &
enforcement of cat related laws, education, public/private partnerships for cat care &
control, targeted spay / neuter programs and properly regulated cat caretaker programs.
BASIS FOR POLICY
The basis of the policy is to protect the public and cats living in the wild so as to minimize
the potential for a rabies outbreak. A feral cat is defined as a cat that has been born in the
wild or forsaken by the original owner for an extended period of time. A stray cat is one that
is at large or escaped from an owner. An owned cat has been claimed by a person who
provides the essentials including food, water, shelter, and veterinary care.
In order to protect feral, stray and owned cats, all local or state governments should pass
laws requiring the vaccination and license of all cats in their community. The law should
also require that all owned cats be identified with a traceable license, microchip, or tattoo
so as to identify them from feral cats.
NACA recognizes that in some circumstances, alternative management programs,
including Trap Neuter Vaccinate & Release (TNVR) programs may be effective, and
recommends that each agency assess the individual need with their community and
NACA advocates for effective public education related to cats, active spaying & neutering
initiatives for cats and responsible ownership for all cats
PINELLAS COUNTY VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION STATEMENT
PN FREE-ROAMING AND FERAL CATS
Free-roaming Abandoned and Feral Cats - PCVMA Statement 2009
The PCVMA encourages and supports actions to eliminate the problem offree-roaming abandoned and
feral cats, As a result of irresponsible societal attitudes, an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 of these cats
exist in Pinellas County, Unfortunately, most of these cats will suffer premature mortality from disease,
starvation, or trauma, Their suffering is of sufficient magnitude that it constitutes a national tragedy of
epidemic proportions These free-roaming abandoned and feral cats also represent a significant factor in
the mortality of birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, This population of cats also poses
a Zoonotic disease risk for the public.
• Encouragement of State and Local Ordinances
• The PCVMA strongly supports reducing the number of unowned free-roaming abandoned and
feral cats through humane capture (with placement in homes where appropriate) by the Tampa
Bay SPCA, Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Pinellas County Animal Control, and other local
humane organizations. All free-roaming abandoned and feral cats that are not in managed
colonies should be removed from their environment and euthanized or placed in well managed
sanctuaries if not adoptable, The Pinellas County City Council should adopt and enforce
o Prohibit the sale or adoption of intact cats by humane organizations and animal control
o Require licenSing, rabies vaccination, and permanent animal identification through
microchipping of all cats.
o Require that owned cats be kept indoors, in an outdoor enclosure, or on a leash
o Prohibit public feeding of intact free-roaming abandoned and feral cats.
o Prevent establishment of managed cat colonies in wildlife-sensitive ecosystems.
o Encourage education and affordable spay and neuter programs.
• Managed Cat Colonies
The PCVMA neither endorses nor opposes appropriately managed cat colony programs.
o An insignificant percentage of the total number of unowned free-roaming and feral cats
are being managed by humane organizations. Consequently, the reduction in the total
number of free-roaming cats these programs will effect is insignificant.
o Managed colonies should be considered an interim solution to the problem of feral,
free-roaming cats-the first step toward reducing the size of the colony through
o The PCVMA opposes placement of managed cat colonies on public lands or in any area
that could threaten at-risk wildlife or in areas that may pose a zoonotic risk to the
o Should managed cat colonies be established, natural or artificial restrictive barriers
should be employed to protect both cats and native wildlife.
o If sanctuaries for feral cats exist or are to be built, the PCVMA encourages properly
designed and maintained facilities, High quality care is imperative and overcrowding
must be avoided,
The PCVMA strongly believes that education to prevent cat abandonment should be the
cornerstone of efforts to reduce feral cat numbers in Pinellas County. Education should focus
on reducing abandonment of domestic cats, elimination of public feeding of unowned and free-
roaming feral cats, responsible pet ownership, and spaying and neutering of all cats,