TNR Becomes Official Policy in Chicago

Boks has been trying to get LA to adopt an official TNR position to deal with feral cats. Two environmental groups have threaten to sue which has caused Boks and the Mayor's Office to do a CEQUA environmental study.

I don't know what happened to the study; it was started well over a year ago.

Eventually the ordinance will make it to Council and 1,000,000 cat haters and another 1,000 birdwatchers will speak in opposition.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the Managed Care of Feral Cats ordinance on Oct. 16, making Trap-Neuter-Return the approved method for managing feral cats in the Chicago area.

The ordinance allows feral cat colony caretakers to be primarily responsible for managing the estimated 800,000 feral cats in Cook County by providing food, water, shelter, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries, and ear tipping.

Area shelters will register and serve as sponsors to review and approve feral cat colony caretakers, provide education to these individuals, and oversee their responsibilities. The Department of Animal Control will remain the final authority and will have the right to trap and remove unvaccinated cats that show signs of disease, those who are not spayed or neutered, and those who have not been given identification through ear tipping.

“This legislation legitimizes the important work that a lot of people have been doing for many years,” says Abby Smith, Executive Director at Felines, Inc., a Northside no-kill cat shelter.
“A group of dedicated volunteers have made a significant impact on the number of feral cats in Cook County and my hope is that this ordinance inspires more people to become involved in TNR efforts. I am very proud that Felines Inc. will become a sponsor to caretakers of feral colonies. This ordinance has helped to galvanize the city’s cat shelters as we work together to address the feline overpopulation problem.”

To read the new ordinance, visit
I really don't know what to make of the ordinance. I am sure some colony managers will refuse to register because they are afraid of what the City might do in the future if policies or personnel changes again.
I don't know really how this will help colony managers. Just because it is official policy doesn't mean individual colonies are any better protected from cat haters or neighbor harassment.
And, for the City to know where each colony and caretaker is, makes them potentially even more of a Wellsian Big Brother.
In LA, we have an unofficial TNR policy, more like, don't ask, don't tell. There is no official recognition, but there also isn't any official harassment.
Strange too, in Santa Monica the colonies I tended to or knew of, were extremely stable, some having members 10 or more years old. Here, in the Valley, it is a lot different. The survival rate in the colonies I know of is much lower.
Notice that someone estimated Cook County had 800,000 feral cats; I wonder what Merritt Clifton would think about that. He estimated Baltimore had no more than 30,000 ferals. The Chicago estimate is 27 times higher.
Merrit has some explaining to do.


Kelley said...

It really depends on what the laws are concerning free-roaming cats to begin with.

In Austin, there is no law concerning free-roaming cats so TNR ordinances are not needed and would indeed be unnecessarily restrictive.

In a town north of us there are laws against free-roaming cats so enacting a TNR policy there gives feral cats some measure of protection, but the TNR must be carried out under the supervision of one of 2 recognized 501(c)(3) groups, the feral cats must be microchipped, etc. But it does give them some level of protection.

Without knowing the existing laws in Chicago I can't comment on whether or not this is a good thing, but in general I think more laws are not the answer.

Anonymous said...

Kelley said:

"TNR must be carried out under the supervision of one of 2 recognized 501(c)(3) groups, the feral cats must be microchipped, etc. But it does give them some level of protection."

This is a wonderful policy since expenditures for caring for feral cats are exhorbitant.

503(c) 3's get all the tax deductions for everything, including their shelter, food and medical expenses. They can even buy property somewhere that where they can put cats into and get tax deductions as a no-kill or adoption agency.

As long as there is an effort to adopt out the cats, even if they're feral, the 501 (c)3 can take a good chunk back after taxes.

There are a lot of cat collectors who become 501 (c)3 and never adopt any cats out, but get the tax breaks anyway.

For the average person taking care of feral and strays it's all out-of-pocket and these people end up in the whole when they start feeding every cat on the block, all over.

No breaks there.

Also, it's a good idea that just north of you, Kelley, that there is that microchip requirement for ferals.

So many people leave their ferals behind when they move, or die. They really should be treated like owned cats and they deserve the same rights as owned animals.

Anyone who is caught feeding stray cats can always betray their cats by saying that they don't belong to them, so that the feeder avoids getting into trouble. So he turns his back on the cats.

Then he's told to stop feeding and watering them if they don't "belong" to them.

This is how the cats end up abandoned.

When the cats are microchipped, they're automatically owned cats, and get to receive the same dignity of care as an owned domestic cats.

Everyone knows who the caretaker is with a microchip so that when there is any sign of abuse or neglect, animal cruelty or abnadonment, the owner is required to take full responsibility.

People who microchip their cats, owned or stray, are the ones who openly decide to commit to those cats and to never turn their back on them.

If all cats, owned--feral and stray are required to be microchipped, and they're picked up by someone and taken to the shelter, the owner can be tracked down, if he responsibly puts in his change of address when he moves.

If the cats are left behind, and the owner is caught abandoning his cats, more revenue for the shelters going toward the care of the animals in the shelters, and the owner is charged w/ abandonment (same as licensing your dog).

When someone makes that decision to microchip a feral cat, it is automatically a committment for life.

I totally agree.

All my cats are microchipped. Both feral and domestic.

As a matter of fact, Feral Cat Alliance now has a microchip option for the ferals when the cats are taken into the clinic for s/n.

I think all cats should have that option, and it should be a requirement.

The SPCA sergeant asked me why I microchipped my ferals.

I told him it was the responsible thing to do.

You can certainly get into a lot of trouble when you are feeding more than the legal limit, and your cats are microchipped--because the microchips are proof that you own more than the legal limit.

But let me tell you that all I get is a smile when I tell officials that all my ferals not only have the cropped ears, but they are microchipped in addition.

I want them ALL back if they ever end up in the shelter for some reason, and I want to make sure that I treat them as owned animals.

I only wish I had the same tax breaks as other people who claim their cat expenses on their tax returns. Not possible, however. I'm not a rescuer.

Kelley said...

I don't know where all these tax deductions are coming from.

I run a 501(c)(3) group and we do not have to pay sales tax on purchases of goods, which saves us about 8% - that doesn't apply at the vet's office because that is purchase of services, not goods. But there is no special tax deduction for food, shelter, medication that I know of. If you know of one please let me know cuz I am sure missing it. We have noticed somewhat of an increase in donations, and it makes you eligible for grant funding, and some other benefits, so I wouldn't discourage groups from becoming 501(c)(3). But for some reason people think that when you get your letter of determination from the IRS the money comes flooding in, and that is not the case in my experience.

We do not microchip ferals because, quite simply, money that we spend on microchipping is money that can't be spent on spays and neuters and we consider those more important than microchipping.