Penn Yan to begin trap, neuter, vaccinate program for cats

Gwen Chamberlain

Reigning Cats and Dogs will begin trapping cats in the village of Penn Yan as soon as the not-for-profit organization prepares a contract that’s acceptable with village attorney Edward Brockman.

Robert Krause, founder of the organization, reported to the village board on Dec. 16, explaining that he and other volunteers have met with village residents to assess the need and interest for a trap, neuter, vaccinate and release (TNVR) program to control feral cats in the village.

He told the board that so far, it appears there are about 100 to 150 cats in various colonies around the village. Through the meetings with residents, volunteers with the organization have been able to resolve some issues in the village already, without trapping, he said.

Although there still seem to be some questions about how various state laws might affect an agreement, Krause says state laws have changed in the recent years in response to successful programs.

An undated document prepared by a former general council for the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) discusses some of the state regulations related to handling cats, whether stray, feral or domestic.

That document, provided to The Chronicle-Express this week, appears to question a local municipality’s authority to enter into a contract to collect feral cats, spay or neuter them at the expense of the municipality.

An attempt to reach the attorney who wrote the newsletter document revealed the attorney is no longer employed by NYCOM, and the spokesperson for the organization was unable to determine a date that the document was written.

Krause says other municipalities in New York State, including New York City, are working on programs to control feral cat populations.

“Attitudes and programs toward feral cats have changed dramatically,” he says.

“A number of groups were successful and showed that this worked throughout the country,” he said in a telephone conversation on Dec. 23, adding, “There are still some old laws on the books.”

Krause told the board once a formal agreement is reached, trapping could begin immediately  — probably sometime in January.

 The program will begin in areas where the larger colonies have been identified, said Krause. He also noted the trapping will be done in a “fairly narrow” area and 15 to 20 traps will be set at a time.

Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. said one of the concerns he’s heard from residents is that pets could be trapped and taken to a clinic for the surgical neutering. While there, the cat’s left ear will be “tipped” or trimmed slightly to help identify cats that have been through the program.

Krause explained the cats will be neutered within 24 hours of being captured, and then returned to the area where they were trapped soon after surgery.

To help prevent capturing pets, the organization will notify residents of specific neighborhoods when they plan to trap in the area, and advise residents to keep their animals inside during the trapping.

Krause said some animals may be adopted, and others may be completely removed from the neighborhood because of medical issues.

Krause requests that complaints about feral cats be referred directly to Reigning Cats and Dogs.

“We will coordinate the feeding and management of the feral colonies. There will be a big push in the first six months to a year,” he said.

The village board asked Krause to provide a list of the volunteers who will be trapping animals, so the police department can conduct background checks on them before they begin work in the village.

The board agreed to spend up to $3,000 in the first year on the program, and recommended that the organization secure insurance coverage for the volunteers.