Here kitty, kitty… We will be hearing more of this as not only has St. Clair County, IL passed the No-Kill Resolution by 2021 BUT now county board members have also passed a community cat ordinance! This is all amazing news for the county’s animals! Personally, I can’t be more excited about the county’s commitment to animals by lowering euthanasia and increasing the save rate. As a county resident (born then recently moved back), it is important to me that our animals are cared for in the hands of Animal Services. For the past few years myself and other volunteers have been working with Animal Services to improve conditions at the County’s facility as well as improve policies and procedures to increase live-release rates.
In 2016, county volunteers officially formed the St. Clair County Animal Advocates as a voice for the animals. GPG volunteer, Sheila Ford has been instrumental in getting this organization started and rallying troops to continue the push for no-kill.
With the help of Best Friends Animal Society (and especially local legislative attorney, Ledy VanKavage), the county drew up a no-kill resolution that was passed in December. For those of you that don’t know what no-kill ultimately means, it is ending the killing of shelter pets as a means of population control. It also means achieving a 90% or higher save-rate. If you would like to read some common myths about no-kill, click HERE to read a great article by Best Friends pioneer, Francis Battista.
When a community commits to going no-kill, the first step is finding where the most killing is happening. County officials and advocates reviewed the data and found (like most communities) that cats are the most killed for space. Thankfully, there is a widely used and accepted practice of trap, neuter and return (TNR) for community cats. As you probably know, colonies of cats exist and often times local animal lovers care for those animals. With a formal community cat program, these cats can get sterilized and returned to their colony where they can continue to be cared for without reproducing. This process has been successful all over the world to reduce the numbers of unwanted litters thus reducing the number of strays and killing in local shelters.
On Monday, March 27 2017, St. Clair County officials passed the community cat ordinance to allow caretakers to sterilize these animals, legally! This is a HUGE step to moving the county to no-kill status! In addition to this, a community cat program will open the doors for more programs to increase the save-rate of the county’s cats. Barn cat programs are another great way to spare the lives of cats that would otherwise be killed for space.
So now what? Yes, the county has passed the ordinance however there is still more work to be done. Now, each municipality within the county needs to pass the same or similar community cat ordinance. This is where you come in! The wise, Ledy VanKavage always says, politics is not a spectator sport. If you live in one of the encompassed municipalities (Belleville, Swansea, Fairview Heights, O’Fallon, East St. Louis, Cahokia, etc.), become active and attend your local city council meeting. Take the county’s ordinance with you and encourage your council members to draft, present and pass their own community cat ordinance. This will allow caretakers in those communities to legally TNR AND this opens up the possibility for more grant money for the program. If you need help with this process, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to help or answer questions!
As you can tell, I am giddy with excitement about the life-saving changes happening in our community and can’t wait to celebrate with all of you in 2021 as we reach no-kill! LET’S DO THIS!