Chief Burris Misinformed SiltBOTs About CARE’s TNR Program

** UPDATE **
5/2/11 — Thanks to this post, the Street Cat Coalition will be making a presentation before the SiltBOTs at the May 23 town board meeting.


To understand this post you must click on this link:  Feral Cat Update Video

It will take you to a video clip from the April 11, 2011, SiltBOT meeting. The video counter begins at 38.39. Go forward to 35:45 and watch the 6-minute discussion. Go on now. I’ll wait …

Yup. That’s right. Chief Burris and the SiltBOTs think this kitten – and other feral cats – should be euthanized.

I adopted her last week. Her name is Noni Baby. She was a TNR (trap-neuter-return) from the streets of Silt. Approximately 2 months ago – in the dead of winter – she was trapped and taken to CARE where she was given a full health assessment. She was tested for Feline leukemia and FIV, plus she got rabies and FVRCP vaccinations, and she was spayed. Because of her young age, about 5 months at the time, it was determined she could be rehabilitated in a new home. Noni Baby is most definitely feral. I’ve had her for over a week and have rarely seen her, though I know she’s eating. It’s going to take months to rehabilitate her but I’m looking forward to watching her blossom into the beautiful cat she was meant to be – no matter how long it takes.

Or how about Miss Fiona? She was only 10 months old last fall when she was captured on the streets in Rifle. She ended up at the shelter and I adopted her. Would they have preferred she was euthanized instead?

Are either of these cats sick or diseased?
No. They are quite healthy.
Will either of these cats be back on the streets again?
Never. My cats don’t go outside.

Chief Burris and the SiltBOTs own words speak for themselves. It was the most misinformed and insensitive discussion I have ever seen at a town board meeting – and I thought I’d seen it all.

Chief Burris claimed the cats “have feline leukemia that they’re treating for then … reintroducing them back into the area.”

Not true.

I spoke with Kathy Hall from Rifle. She is a volunteer and spokeswoman for the Street Cat Coalition in this area, which is a CARE affiliate. CARE is funded in part by Garfield County and donations from local foundations, businesses, and individuals. The local Street Cat Coalition chapter is a very small group of volunteers who use the TNR program to deal with the feral cat population in this region. According to Hall, studies have shown that going into an area and euthanizing colonies of cats doesn’t solve the feral cat problem. More cats will be let go or run away, have kittens, and the cycle begins all over again.

What is the Street Cat Coalition?

It is a worldwide volunteer effort to address the feral cat issue. Feral cats and kittens – meaning totally wild – living on the streets are captured in humane live traps and transported to a local shelter. In this region they go to CARE. Each cat is given a full health assessment, tested for feline leukemia and FIV. If the cat tests positive for either, it is euthanized. If there is anything wrong with the cat that would affect its ability to survive on its own or be adopted, the cat is euthanized. No diseased or disabled cats or kittens are returned to the streets of Silt or any other town in this region.

The cats are spayed and neutered. Their left ears are notched to indicate they have been through the program. Kittens are placed in foster homes until they are old enough to be spayed or neutered and put up for adoption. Cats and kittens who can be rehabilitated and adopted receive rabies and FVRCP vaccinations. The cats that are returned to the streets are not vaccinated because there is no way to re-vaccinate, or keep them current on vaccinations.

Each cat and kitten is assessed individually. Its fate is not set in stone. Cats are only returned to the streets if a caretaker in the neighborhood has volunteered to feed and watch over them. If the cats don’t have a caretaker, then they are held at CARE and given to people with rural property who are looking for barn cats, although those situations are few and far between. Cats that can be rehabilitated – like Miss Fiona and Noni Baby – are placed in shelters or foster homes until they are adopted by crazy cat people like me.

Hall said less than two dozen cats were trapped in Silt last year and most of them were returned to the streets because they were too wild to rehabilitate. However those feral cats are neutered, spayed, and disease-free. They have citizen caretakers feeding them and looking after them. Hall stressed that these are truly wild animals. They are returned to the streets just like you would return a bird or raccoon into the wild. They don’t know any other life, nor do they want any other life. Feral cat colonies are part of the ecosystem of any community environment. Studies have shown that feral cat colonies help keep down the rodent population in neighborhoods.

More importantly the TNR program works. During the past nine years it has been implemented in this region, the feral cat population has gradually declined. In some communities, Hall said police departments actually participate in the program — but not in Silt.

Hall summed it up best this way:  “This is not a cat problem. This is a people problem. We humans created it and it is our responsibility to humanely correct it.”
As vulgar and insensitive as the SiltBOTs discussion was, at least now we know how they feel. Feral cats are somebody else’s problem and they should be TE’d (trap-euthanize). Later on during board comments, Mayor Pro-Tem Aluise apologized for his feral cats as “target practice” comment and praised the good work of CARE. But I’m an expert on cat puke. It leaves a stain.

I really don’t care what those individuals think about the TNR program. The voters didn’t elect them to get together and spew their personal opinions twice a month. It’s not a coffee klatch or The View. They are supposed to do stuff that’s good for the town. They ought not be making it up as they go, and spread misinformation to the public.

Is the TNR program good for Silt?
Because it’s working. Whether or not you agree with the program, the number of feral cats in Silt is on the decline. Duh. Winning.
Should the town support the TNR Program?

What should we do?
We could write letters to Chief Burris and the SiltBOTs and call them “cat killers”.  Go ahead. They deserve it.

But I have a better idea. Let’s do something positive. Let’s show them we support the CARE/Street Cat Coalition’s TNR Program. Can you send $1 or $5 – or more?

Make your check payable to:  Street Cat Coalition
Mail to:
2801 County Road 114
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

To donate by Paypal go to the CARE website, click on Donate, under Get Involved. Please type Street Cat Coalition in the special instructions or memo section.

I have adopted two street kitties and my $50 check is in the mail. I will keep you updated on how we’re doing dollarwise. Please join me and donate!

In the meantime, the Rifle Animal Shelter also helps with rehabilitation and placement for captured cats. Here’s another way you can help and get fed, too –

Spayghetti and No Balls Dinner

Saturday, May 7, 2011
4:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Rifle Elks Club

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children. Dinner includes a special lasagna, spaghetti, meatballs, salad, bread, and a donation dessert bar.

Tickets can be purchased at the shelter, Valley Veterinary Clinic, Downtown Drug, Jimmy’s 66, and Jim’s Automotive, Town & Country Veterinary Hospital, or at the door.

Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Rifle Animal Shelter community spay and neuter program. We helped spay and neuter over 300 pets in the Rifle area [including Silt] last year. Help us keep helping the community! See you there!

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3 Comments on “Chief Burris Misinformed SiltBOTs About CARE’s TNR Program”

  1. Joseph Muenich Says:

    As a proud adoptive-parent of a cat from the streets of Rifle, I will whole heartedly join you in supporting these orgainzations. Thank you, Peggy, for bringing these stories to light. Oh, and the Cheif will be hearing from me, too (as if he isn’t reading it now).

  2. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    You’re welcome. Say hi to Esther for me.

  3. bowen roberts Says:

    more than enuf ignorance to go aroud–& for such a small town.
    every little town seems to go thru the same process–ignore any & all information that is available–inn this case w/in 20 miles! Carbondale,just up the road, has had the same predictable sucess as towns all over the country.
    are these fools on the board just to document their ignorance for history or to find solutions to everyday problems. i can smell their stinking EGO’s all the way to Ct.
    Thanx Peggy, I don’t know how you do it, but don’t quit…

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