The claws came out at Minneapolis City Hall on Wednesday as leaders considered an ordinance to reduce the number of feral cats by trapping them and then releasing them once they've been spayed or neutered.
There's a rented room at Minneapolis Animal Control where a non-profit called MN-SNAP sterilizes dogs and cats at a low cost four days a week.
"Our purpose is to provide affordable and accessible spay-neuter services to people who can't afford it," Dr. Kim Culbertson explained.
One on five of the cats that come in are feral, and the non-profit contends spaying or neutering them is a far better way to reduce the city's population of strays than Animal Control's current approach, which is to trap and euthanize.
"Over the past five years, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control has spent around $200,000 trapping and killing cats, and it's not a method that's working to reduce the feral cat and stray cat population," Culbertson said.
Before a Minneapolis City Council committee, representatives of the Animal Control said they agree that trapping and then releasing feral cats after they've been neutered or spayed would be better.
The plan, called trap-neuter-return, is already in place in seven other cities across the country, including in St. Paul. It works by allowing people to register as caretakers of feral cat colonies to make sure they're vaccinated, chipped and sterilized.
Animal advocates love the plan, saying it's not only kinder, but it also drastically reduces populations -- except for bird lovers. They worry that if feral cats are cared for and fed, they will grow in numbers. Others still wonder how the caretakers will fare.
"If this ordinance is passed, these cats will put a huge burden on the caretakers," Jerry Bahls, president of the Audubon Chapter, argued.
Yet, one man said he went from 104 cats down to four in just two years after the feral cat colony in his neighborhood was spayed and neutered.
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