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Councillors explore partnership options for TNR programs

Councillors on the city's development services committee have voted in favour of investigating different ways to handle the city's feral feline population, including starting a possible trap, neuter and release program.

Councillors on the city’s development services committee have voted in favour of investigating different ways to handle the city’s feral feline population, including starting a possible trap, neuter and release program.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Following a visit from Toronto’s top vet and animal services manager, councillors are considering new options for a future program to trap, neuture and release the city’s feral felines.

At the development services committee, councillors were paid a visit by Elizabeth Glibbery, Toronto’s manager of animal services, and Esther Attard, the city’s chief veterinarian.

The pair explained the successes of Toronto’s TNR program, in place since 2010, which has seen a 66 per cent decrease in the intake of stray cats, a 52 per cent decrease in the intake of feral cats and a decrease in euthanasia rates of 85 per cent – all signs the program is working successfully, the pair said.

Attard also explained how municipalities can successfully navigate the provincial legislation that requires cities to keep stray cats unless returned to their owners and a license fee is paid – something that drew the ire of colony operators in Oshawa in March.

At that time, a colony operator was asked to pay $193 by the city to return a cat that was part of a local Oshawa cat colony, but had been trapped by the city’s animal services department.

Attard explained that by using the colony owners as owners on paper, it allows the cats to be returned without a fee and avoid the requirements by provincial legislation.

“For us, we don’t worry about that,” she said.

Councillor Rick Kerr, a driving force behind the creation of the Oshawa Animal Care committee and getting Toronto’s top animal staffers to the committee, said the information was critical in helping Oshawa “to find a great path forward.”

Following the receipt of the information, Councillor Nancy Diamond put forward a motion to have staff work with the Humane Society of Durham Region on different management, collaboration and options for cost efficient methods of spaying and neutering cats. The motion also asked for a subsequent report and recommendations for action on a possible TNR program.

“I think we’ve had very effective information,” Diamond said. “(It) has given us an administrative context, obviously it’s going to be the dollars and the magnitude.”