Our friends at the Tree House Humane Society in Chicago have created a web resource to help communities create TNR programs, which is a great resource. One of the items on it is the Cook County Ordinance relating to the management of feral cat colonies.
We operate under this ordinance, and we'll be highlighting some of the ways that this ordinance impacts the work we do, and our work with animals in the community.
First, here are the items in the ordinance that we are responsible for implementing when we care for a colony of cats:
1. Registering the colony with the Sponsor. (In our case, the Animal Care League.)
2. Taking all appropriate and available steps to vaccinate the colony population for rabies, preferably with a three-year vaccine and to update the vaccinations as warranted and mandated by law.
3. Taking all appropriate and available steps to have the colony population spayed or neutered by a licensed veterinarian.
4. Eartipping the left ear of a colony cat that has been vaccinated and spayed or neutered so that colony cats can be readily identified.
5. Having an microchip inserted into each colony cat by a veterinarian in accordance with professional medical standards. The Sponsor and the Feral Cat Colony Caretaker shall be the named contacts for purposes of the microchip.
6. Providing the Sponsor with descriptions of each cat in the colony and copies of documents demonstrating that the cats have been vaccinated, micro-chipped, and spayed or neutered.
7. Providing food, water and, if feasible, shelter for colony cats.
8. Obtaining proper medical attention for any colony cat that appears to require it.
9. Observing the colony cats at least twice per week and keeping a record of any illness or unusual behavior noticed in any colony cat.
10. Obtaining the written approval of the owner of any property, or any authorized representative of the owner, to which the Caretaker requires access to provide colony care.
11. Taking all reasonable steps to (1) remove kittens from the colony after they have been weaned, (2) place the kittens in homes or foster homes for the purpose of subsequent permanent placement, and (3) capture and spay the mother cat.
12. Reporting semi-annually in writing to the Sponsor on (1) the location of the colony, (2) the number and gender of all cats in the colony, (3) the number of cats that died or otherwise ceased being a part of the colony; (4) the number of kittens born to colony cats and their disposition, (5) the number of cats placed in animal shelters or in permanent homes as companion cats, (6) the number of cats vaccinated, (7) the number of cats micro-chipped, and (8) the number of cats spayed or neutered.
In our case, we have elected to have cats tested for FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIV as well, which is not mandated by the ordinance but is beneficial for the strays and household pets who are outside. We have assigned monitor positions for each colony but our feeders and trappers also monitor each colony as well.