BROOKSVILLE — The time has come for Hernando County to get out of the business of loaning out traps for residents to capture stray cats, according to Animal Services managing veterinarian Lisa Centonze.
The trapping service drains financial resources, is ineffective, drives up euthanasia numbers and, in turn, takes a toll on Animal Services workers, Centonze argues.
When the recommendation came before the County Commission earlier this month, Commissioner Wayne Dukes voiced some concern about losing the service. Commissioners will discuss the proposal Tuesday.
"We're trying to stop a practice that is not cost effective for the county that takes a lot of staff time,'' Centonze told the Tampa Bay Times. "It's an unacceptable solution to controlling our feral cat population. It's empowering citizens to help us euthanize cats.''
Other animal welfare advocates in the community agree.
"Euthanizing feral cats is not effective because for every one you euthanize there are going to be 10 more of them coming along,'' said Joanne Schoch, executive director of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast.
Instead of loaning out traps, Schoch said, the county should put more teeth into laws that require owners to be responsible for their pets.
"It's a cost to the county that doesn't have a benefit,'' Schoch said.
"The bottom line is why are we doing this?'' said Richard Silvani, executive director of the PetLuv Nonprofit Spay and Neuter Clinic in Brooksville. "I don't think that's a service we owe our citizens.''
Silvani said when someone has a problem with wildlife on their property, the person must find a solution because the county doesn't deal with problem raccoons or squirrels.
"There are also a lot of people trapping their neighbors' cats. Some people don't like cats … or they're trying to clean up their neighborhoods,'' Silvani said.
Some of those pet cats are euthanized because owners are afraid to go to Animal Services or don't get there quickly enough.
"It's an unnecessary service. It's not required. It's not effective," Silvani said. "We don't need to be doing this."
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.