OK, a quick update for anyone not tuned in to the Community Cat Message Network:
Back in late 2009, in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Los Angeles–area bird advocacy groups against City of Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found in favor of the bird groups that LAAS programs in support of trap/neuter/return (TNR) as a community cat management strategy was in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the agency had not conducted an environmental impact study regarding the effects on the environment of sterilizing free-roaming community cats. (Raise your hand if you know the answer. No cheating, now. OK, you there, in Wisconsin: “Umm, they don’t have babies?” Correct! Congratulations, you win two old black Labs and three feral cats!). Unfortunately, the case was poorly argued, and the obvious merits and effects of TNR were never raised, nor even whether or not CEQA was applicable in this case. Sadly, no one won any old Labs or feral kitties!
In October, nearly four years on, and following what can only be described as four years of tragedy for L.A. community cats and caregivers, the city has completed the work to comply with the court findings, and the city’s engineering department has issued a “Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Citywide Cat Program.” A negative declaration with regard to CEQA is basically an official statement from a qualified agency stating that CEQA does not apply in a particular case and an environmental impact study is not needed. A negative declaration, in this case, means that CEQA applies only in those areas where TNR might have some impact on the environment (e.g., established environmentally sensitive areas, which may be home to endangered, threatened or protected species, etc.), and certain restrictions on TNR are recommended.
The “Notice of Intent” is municipality-speak for what amounts to fair warning to all concerned that, “Hey, this is what we are recommending. If you want to get your two cents in, now’s your chance — and you have until 4 p.m. on November 4th to do so.”
Best Friends and our NKLA partners have submitted a comprehensive commentary on the mitigated negative declaration (MND), which, while being better than the status quo, leaves much to be desired and poses serious threats to cats and caregivers. While the court-ordered injunction places restrictions only on LAAS support of TNR, the MND will apply to all community cat caregivers and rescues, and the community cats for which they are a lifeline.
If you live in the city of Los Angeles, we encourage you to let your voice be heard. Please click here and support the efforts of Best Friends and our NKLA partners to modify the provisions of the MND before it goes to City Council for approval. The kitties are counting on you.
If you don’t live in L.A., be sure to sign up for the Best Friends Legislative Action Center, so that you will be alerted when important animal issues happen in your area.
Best Friends Animal Society