New Va. bill would decriminalize sterilizing feral cats

Posted at 11:59 PM, Jan 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-24 00:03:12-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Central Virginia is no stranger toferal cats.

“Where they can find shelter and food very often, free-roaming cats will take up residency,” said Tabitha Hanes with the Richmond SPCA.

CBS 6 has also reported on numerous occasions in which people simply deal with the cats, or take matters into their own hands by using a common tactic called TNR (Trap, neuter, and return) which keeps cats from reproducing.

However, State Senator Steve Martin said that because of Virginia’s current code, trapping and returning a feral cat after getting “fixed” could be considered abandonment and result in a $500 fine.

Hanes said to her knowledge, no one has been charged, but there have been threats at times.

 Tabitha Hanes

Tabitha Hanes

“The fear of intimidation sometimes has prevented people from using the approach that is proven in research that is most compassionate,” said Hanes.

Sen. Martin agrees, and he’s hoping to pass a bill that would allow anyone to trap and sterilize a feral cat without fear of it being charged for abandonment.

“We’ve always believed that when a person out of the kindness of their heart takes a feral cat to be sterilized and has them vaccinated against rabies that they are not incurring any fort of ownership obligation,” said Hanes.

However, some neighbors who live near feral cat colonies said they don’t know if this solution will help get rid of the problem. They said off camera that they believe more needs to be done.

RELATED: Feral cat colony in Midlothian allegedly pushes neighbors to want to take drastic steps