A very kind and responsible lady has been caring for a small feral cat colony for years near her home and faithfully trapping, neutering, vaccinating and feeding them. After County officials instructed her to seek a conditional use permit in order to continue caring for the colony or otherwise risk prosecution (for an alleged zoning violation), the Board of Zoning Appeals issued a ruling yesterday rejecting that assertion. In its meeting, Board members said such a permit is only required if a resident “keeps” more than three adult pets. Since feral cats have no owner and survive independently outdoors, they are not susceptible of being “kept.” Consequently, the Board determined that Henrico County was wrong when it asked the woman to pursue the conditional use permit months ago.
Let us only imagine what life for feral cats would look like if jurisdictions started requiring devoted volunteer caretakers like her who dutifully trap, neuter, vaccinate and feed feral cats to obtain conditional use permits that would allow them to continue their lifesaving work. Adding unnecessary red tape to an already demanding effort and selfless task (which provides huge benefits to localities) would be both expensive and harmful.
Feral cats exist because of human irresponsibility and are the offspring of abandoned and loosely-owned pet cats that were never spayed or neutered. They have always existed and will continue to exist throughout our community as long as human behavior does not change. The only responsible, humane and effective method for managing feral cat colonies is Trap-Neuter-Return, which is why our Smoky’s Spay/Neuter Clinic delivers sterilization surgeries and rabies vaccinations to feral cats in Greater Richmond free of charge. Through TNR, we ensure that cats can no longer reproduce, thereby preventing the growth of the colony. We also ensure that the cats present no material health risks to the community because they are vaccinated against the rabies virus. And most importantly, we saves their lives.
The Richmond SPCA is deeply grateful to the Henrico County Board of Zoning Appeals, and especially to Russell A. "Al" Wright who articulated the thoughtful analysis that arrived at this positive result for feral cats.
Tamsen Kingry is the chief operating officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.
Sept. 20, 2011: Effort against feral cats in Henrico goes before Henrico Board of Zoning Appeals this Thursday