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Clarifying Local Law 59

(Photo by Urban Cat League)
(Photo by Urban Cat League)
There seems to be some confusion about Local Law 59 (formerly Intro 655) and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). We hope the following clarifies some of the issues.

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has been a supporter of TNR in NYC for many years and has poured considerable resources into the New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) in the form of free trap loans, free transport of traps to and from TNR sites, free transport of cats to and from spay/neuter appointments at the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic in Glendale and to private veterinary practices, free food and straw giveaways, training sessions in kitten socialization and bottle-feeding, Maddie’s® Spay/Neuter Project for Stray Community Cats in NYC, and maintaining the NYCFCI website and phone number for information for the public as well as Certified TNR Caretakers.

Please check out the NYCFCI website to learn more about our mission and services.

With respect to TNR, Local Law 59 (formerly Intro 655) directs the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DoH) to promulgate regulations to simply provide for the registration of people and groups conducting TNR and establishing criteria for that registration.

The draft TNR regulations are currently with the DoH and will be released by March 1, 2012. We, along with you, are awaiting release of the draft regulations by DoH and the public discussion period and public hearing that will follow that release.

At the request of the DoH, proposed regulations drafted by two of the best animal law lawyers in NYC, both of them very well-versed in TNR, were submitted to DoH for their consideration. We are hoping for a simple caretaker registration system with the criteria for registration being TNR certification.

While the regulations drafted by Neighborhood Cats have clear intent to protect TNR and the well-being of feral cats in NYC, and both are obviously priorities for the Mayor’s Alliance and NYCFCI, the draft regulations put forth for public comment will come from DoH as required by Local Law 59 (formerly Intro 655).

But to reiterate, we are hoping for a simple caretaker registration system with the criteria for registration being completion of a TNR Certification Workshop. TNR Certification Workshops already set forth standards of care and best practices for TNR projects.

Now that the DoH is actively working on the regulations, there is a focus for a discussion session to take place after the release of the draft regulations to have the TNR community come together to discuss the regulations and what they mean, and to hear feedback from our TNR peers. NYCFCI will send out details regarding that meeting.

Pertinent Language

Please read the actual pertinent language in Local Law 59 (formerly Intro 655):

§ 17-802 Definitions. For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

c. “Feral cat” shall mean an animal of the species Felis catus who has no owner, is unsocialized to humans and has a temperament of extreme fear of and resistance to contact with humans.

g. “Trap-Neuter-Return” means a program to trap, vaccinate for rabies, sterilize and identify feral cats and return them to the locations where they were found.

§ 4. Section 17-804 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new subdivision d to read as follows:

d. Every owner of a cat who permits such cat to roam outside the interior of the owner’s dwelling shall have such cat sterilized. At the request of employees or authorized agents of the department, owners shall provide proof satisfactory to the department that a cat found roaming has been sterilized. The Department shall not seize a cat solely on the ground that the cat has not been sterilized.

§ 7. Section 17-807 of the administrative code of the city of New York, as added by local law number 26 for the year 2000, is amended to read as follows:

§ 17-807 Rules. The commissioner shall promulgate such rules as are necessary for the purposes of implementing and carrying out the provisions of this chapter, including rules providing for the registration of individuals or groups conducting Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) activities, and the establishment of criteria for such registration.