CLEARFIELD -- Alley Cat Allies, a national advocacy organization, is taking action against a Top of Utah legislator and his proposed bill regarding feral cats.
Based in Bethesda, Md., Alley Cats Allies, which claims to be dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, is just one of the animal-rights organizations that are opposed to Utah House Bill 210. The organization has started an action center against the proposed bill by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, which would change the state's animal cruelty law to allow the killing of feral animals, pests and rodents.
Alley Cat Allies has asked its supporters in Utah to contact Oda and let him know their feelings against the bill. The organization has also provided a way to contact other Utah government officials via its website at www.alleycat.org.
"The bill would be a giant step backward, because the state of Utah already has felony provisions for anti-cruelty laws dealing with animals," said Elizabeth Parowski, a spokeswoman for Alley Cat Allies.
Parowski said Alley Cat Allies has 2,040 supporters in Utah and 250,000 nationwide.
In 2008, the Utah Legislature passed a law that made animal cruelty a felony.
Parowski said Alley Cat Allies is outraged because the proposed bill would revoke protection the cats already have, and Alley Cat Allies supports the protection of all cats, including feral cats. Parowski also said the bill would put all cats at risk, because if a person thinks the cat is feral when they kill the cat, they will not be charged with cruelty to animals.
Oda told the Standard-Examiner earlier this week that his bill "does not allow just anyone to kill any animal that they believe is feral."
Oda said he does advocate following the American Veterinary Medical Association's guidelines for humane euthanasia. Those guidelines include shooting, blows to the head and decapitation, but they emphasize that the killings should be done by properly trained people using well-maintained equipment.
So, according to Oda, his proposed bill would not allow people to just shoot cats in their neighborhood.
"Cities have ordinances that restrict the discharge of firearms or any weapons with a projectile within their limits," Oda said.
Parowski also said that just killing feral cats is wrong, and that there is a better solution.
"We're for the trap-neuter-return policy, because it is proven to improve the cats' lives," Parowski said. "The cats are no longer under the stress of pregnancy."
Anne Davis, executive director of the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah, agrees that trapping and fixing the cats is what should be done.
"First of all, it's more humane," Davis said.
Davis pointed to a colony of feral cats near Utah State Prison in Draper that, 10 years ago, was close to 200 cats and is now at a couple dozen. She said the numbers dropped because those who were caring for the cats trapped them and had them spayed and neutered.
"It is a human-caused problem, and we need a human touch," Davis said. "We don't need to be over-vigilant and cruel."