Group presents information about feral cat program to council committee

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Dr. Dennis Lawler, DVM, presented the city council’s Public Safety Committee Monday evening with information regarding population control of feral cats. 

Dr. Lawler, along with representatives from the St. Clair County Humane Society and the St. Clair TNR & Rescue, provided information and answered questions for committee members about the Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program. It is their desire to see the council adopt a permissive ordinance for TNR in the City of O’Fallon, similar to ordinances recently adopted by St. Clair County and the City of Belleville. 

TNR allows feral cats to be trapped, sterilized, and released back to the outdoor area where they were found. Dr. Lawler also indicated sterilizing these cats not only helps control the population, but also reduces the nuisance behaviors commonly associated with feral cats. The TNR program is funded by private donations, as well as funds from the state for population control.

There are not any current city ordinances that prohibit or prevent a program like this from operating within city limits. Residents are already able to contact the St. Clair County Humane Society or St. Clair TNR & Rescue to have them visit their property to trap feral cats as part of the TNR program.

Dr. Lawler indicated this would be “a permissive ordinance…the TNR workers could certainly feel vulnerable if they’re working in an area where there isn’t at least a permissive ordinance.” O’Fallon Police Captain James Cavins pointed out the proposed ordinance “exempts them (individuals who would feed and care for feral cats and form feral cat communities) from our current code of ordinances related to domestic animals and how they’re to be kept.”

The Public Safety committee voted to table the discussion regarding an ordinance specific to the TNR program until their January meeting. Dr. Lawler provided them with a packet of information they wanted to review.