Biscuit went out one day about two weeks ago, was trapped and taken to the Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society, was scanned for a chip, then was immediately killed.
While the shelter has a 5 day hold policy for dogs, there is no such protection for cats. As people familiar with the behavior of cats know, many trapped cats will display the fear and apparent aggression that shelters associate with feral or anti-social behavior, which puts any unidentified cat at risk when shelters are crowded and do not have a hold policy. Emily feels that if the staff had bothered to remove him from the trap and see that he was neutered and well fed and groomed, they’d have known Biscuit was someone’s pet, and at that point sould not have been so quick to kill him.
Word spread locally about Biscuit’s killing and caused outraged animal lovers to turn their anger toward the shelter. While understandable, that anger, if unabated, will make it even harder for the humane society to raise money and do what they can to rehome animals and deal with their area’s pet overpopulation problem.
Whether or not Biscuit should or should not have been allowed to roam outdoors, the fact remains that he was a friendly pet cat, not a feral. Even indoor cats get lost---frequently. And in fact, what if he had been feral, but had been neutered, vaccinated, tested, and fed daily by someone who had invested personal time and dollars in stopping the reproduction of cats in their little corner of their neighborhood?
What other property can you lose and have authorities immediately destroy? Let's suppose your drop your wallet, and your local police immediately toss it in the shredder as soon as a good Samaritan turns it in. Leave a ring of sentimental value on a the edge of a mall sink, and security can take it to the mall jeweler and cash it in for a few bucks of scrap gold. Your old beater car dies at the side of the road, and instead of being towed and impounded for you to pick up for a fine, it is immediately shipped off to be crushed for metal scrap.
If your indoor or outdoor cats are not collared, they should be microchipped. Outdoor cats should be gently trained to wear a break-away collar. And local shelters should remain our haven for lost pets, with a holding period of at least 3-5 days, so people who care about their pets can retrieve them.
I have been to the shelter in Biscuit's story. It is a large, active shelter that saves many lives, with good people who are dedicated to the lives of animals. Yet it appears if a cat comes in in a trap, and there are no immediate tags of ownership, he or she can be killed immediately. It would be easy to demonize the shelter, but in fact the sheer number of cats coming into shelters can be overwhelming, and the facilities to house them humanely for possible redemption (which seldom comes) are limited. It's easy to feel that it's far more humane to put scared feral cats down immediately than box them up for 5 days waiting for an owner who doesn't exist.
Yet the Biscuits of their world, and their owners, deserve to not be caught up in this net of "mercy."
We have more to do.