Among many controversial bills that were up for vote in the recent Utah legislature, one of them put feral cats right in the crosshairs. The bill, House Bill 210, was proposed by Rep. Curtis Oda. The bill would allow anyone to kill an animal that they judged to be feral and would provide an exemption from cruelty charges for that person. Obviously this kind of language opened a pathway for animals to be killed that were possibly family pets, as well as being an ineffective way of dealing with the feral cat population.
Best Friends Animal Society worked hard to spread the word and mobilize constants to voice their objections. They also sought to educate people on the program that they use, which is both human and effective, in helping with the feral cat problem. They worked hard with committee members to strip down the bill, thinking that would be the end of it.
However, Oda’s bill made a comeback in a weakened form and passed the Utah House. The revived bill would still make it legal to shoot cats or other feral animals in unincorporated areas. Luckily the bill never made it before the Senate, and was not passed into law.
The real victory was in the passing of Utah Senate Bill 57, a bill that Best Friends presented together with Senator Dennis Stowell. The bill officially sanctions their TNR (trap, neuter, return) program as a viable and humane solution to community cat management. They have seen great success in using this program.
The bill also extends the “hold time” in shelters from three to five days, giving more animals a chance to find a new home or for their owners to locate their lost pets.
photo from gabirro