ANIMAL CONTROL UPDATE: DESTREHAN CAT COLONY
The St. Charles Parish Animal Control Office is currently responding to a property owner nuisance complaint in Destrehan involving a colony of 27 feral cats and 20 raccoons living and being indiscriminately fed by residents in the parking lot of the Winn Dixie property.
What is the concern from this colony?
This group of animals has had normal inhibition altered; thus causing concern for the actual property owner. A public health concern is imminent once the natural behavior of wild animals has been changed due to inappropriate feeding. Certainly, excess food in the environment serves as an attractant to nuisance wildlife. In this situation, excess food has drawn raccoons. Thriving raccoon populations in urban and suburban settings pose a threat to public health because they are known vector species for rabies, and any bite or scratch inflicted by a raccoon on a member of the public, in addition to the actual threat of rabies, also constitutes a burden on the healthcare system. Any such interaction mandates the administration of post-exposure rabies prophylaxis, a very expensive, urgent application of vaccines and antibodies necessary to prevent the onset of disease and eventual death.
In recent studies, raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis), a parasite that can cause severe human health problems, even death, especially in children, has been found to be present in 20% of urban raccoon populations. Baylisascaris infection is considered an emerging infectious disease by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What is the Animal Control Office currently doing to address the situation in Destrehan?
A year ago the department reached out to the few cat colonies that they received frequent complaints about and met with 18 daily feeders of this colony. The intent was to set the colony up for better management and success and to not end up relocating the colony; something that is difficult for a colony of this size. This is what has been done:
- To date, 23 cats have entered the parish animal shelter and six at least are in the process of being trapped. Traps are being checked frequently however cats hunt and with intermittent feeding are able to sufficiently survive.
- Two cats were severely ill and required immediate euthanasia (caretakers should do more than feed; they should trap and remove the sick/dying so cats do not suffer ).
- One was viral positive and euthanized.
- Two did not have a caretaker claim and were euthanized within 72 hour time period.
- Two cats went with a resident of our parish.
- Four cats went out of parish.
- Twelve cats are currently at the Animal Shelter at 921 Rue La Cannes in Luling and in need of responsible caretakers at locations such as barns. The deadline to pick up is by Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.
Once redemption fee after seizure of $50 is paid, they are receiving a feline leukemia/FIV test prior to relocation, as to not afflict another colony with FIV or leukemia both known and found in this colony. A rabies vaccine, microchip to caretaker and property are also included. The 25% that are not spayed and neutered, will have that and an ear notch to mark as sterilized performed prior to relocation. Because intact cats are in this colony, the Animal Control Offices requires a five hour notice, prior to pick up so that spay/neuter and appropriate testing may be done.
The Animal Control Office has also worked with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office to provide increased patrol. Feeding, tampering with traps, releasing animals are all violations. On Sept. 30 a feeder had 27 piles of food out at 1:30 a.m. and a summons followed. One trap was stolen on Oct. 1 between 2:30 p.m.-7 p.m. In the parish code, Sec. 4-8.1. - Hindering animal control officers penalties applies and will be enforced.
How does the parish deal with cat colonies in general?
A year ago we implemented our feral program and guidelines.
- Phase I is free trap neuter return (TNR)/rabies vaccine/microchip prior to complaints.
- Phase II is a nuisance complaint that entails mediation between cat caretaker and complainant and surrounding neighbors. It is then required that caretaker must maintain fenced on his/her property, indoors or relocation for a $50 redemption fee.
- Phase III is a court summons.
Along with St. Charles Humane Society, Animal Control facilitates free trap neuter return for parish residents only, M-F no appointment required, in an effort for these cats to make better neighbors and decrease the source of 100% of our kitten intake. The parish follows national guidelines to educate on how to maintain these cats responsibly.
How can I help?
It is encouraged that resident be proactive and helpful by actually adopting a feral cat. They are held 72 hours from intake as a courtesy to those that fed them. This is not a mandatory hold, but the parish prefers to see them go to responsible locations where they can hunt for food and decrease rodent populations as they were touted to do. Please, call (985) 783-5010 to adopt one.
Please Note: The cats will not be held longer than 72 hours, as it fills the quarantine area that would otherwise be used for feline intakes, such as lost pets, that must be held for ordinance mandated required times. Feeders are encouraged to find a responsible barn location for one cat each and all will have a relocation area
Statement from the St. Charles Humane Society:
The St. Charles Humane Society is well aware of procedures to follow when managing a feral colony in the parish. We have provided the means in which to have the TNR process followed & help with a FREE program for the past 1.5 years. The society is aware that those procedures in the feeding of feral cats at the Destrehan location have not been followed despite best efforts from SCHS & SCP, which has culminated directly in complaints from property owner. The society is aware of the numerous attempts by the shelter supervisor and staff to work with the feeders in an effort to align with proper feeding, disease control and to circumvent complaints for nuisance control. There are no cat haters in fact it is because of great compassion for all animals that the shelter staff and humane society have put in place TNR and education for proper feeding and maintenance of feral colonies. Major organizations such as ASPCA, HSUS and Ally Cat Allies have all been tremendous resources and benchmarks to follow for proper and safe procedures in the care of colonies.
These efforts have gone without compliance at the Destrehan location which has resulted in the necessary steps by animal control services to follow through with nuisance wildlife pick up, as they do daily for residents of SCP.
The society supports the work of the parish shelter and will not intervene nor obstruct their work to bring this colony in compliance of safe measures for both animals and humans. Prior to releasing for relocation they are spayed/neutered (intact cats in this colony), microchipped, RABIES vaccinated and ear notched all supported by SCHS.