Feral cats prompt change to animal abandonment law
Groups trying to dent population find they run afoul of state law
PIERRE – When a group of volunteers in Huron wanted to tackle that city’s feral cat population, they ran into a problem.
The group started a TNR program – trap, neuter and release – for feral cats. That means capture the cat, spade or neuter it so it can’t procreate, and then send it back on its way. The problem came in the form of a state law that makes it illegal to abandon an animal. The penalty is a class 1 misdemeanor.
The volunteers inquired with the city, the police, even the Attorney General’s Office, said Sen. David Wheeler, a Huron Republican and lawyer. They were told that, yeah, a TNR program technically violated state law. The city of Huron wasn’t going to change its ordinance on the matter until state law changed.
That’s where Wheeler comes in. He is bringing legislation to create a carveout in state law that creates an exception to the abandonment law that would allow a feral cat or dog to be abandoned if someone had assumed responsibility of the animal specifically to have it spade or neutered.