Lawmakers protect TNR programs with bill clarifying abandonment laws

Posted at 4:22 PM, May 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 22:07:48-04

WACO, Texas — It's not uncommon to see stray cats roaming the streets of Central Texas. If it wasn't for the state's trap, neuter, release program, there would be many more.

"Trap, neuter, release is the method of humanely trapping community cats, transporting them to veterinary clinics for sterilizations and vaccinations, then return them to the communities in which they are found," Shelby Bobosky with the Texas Humane Legislation Network explained.

Despite TNR programs existing across the country for years, there's been recent concern if this qualifies as abandonment under Texas law. A bill introduced this session is redefining abuse laws to protect TNR.

"This bill is really necessary to ensure that TNR programs that have been working throughout the state continue without the threat of prosecution under the Texas abandonment law," Bobosky said.

Supporters of the program says they have a lot of benefits for cat colonies, for communities and even local shelters. The Humane Society of Central Texas credits TNR for the lack of cats they have available for adoptions.

"It allows cats to live outside in the habitat they feel most comfortable in while reducing the amount of population contributions they can make," Brooke Farrell, Director of Development, told 25 News.

Farrell said TNR helps limit the number of strays in the community and those brought in to them.

"By allowing cats to live outside, we are able to raise our no kill live exit rate like 40% simply for having less cats in the shelter," Farrell said.

Roughly 6.5 million animals enter shelters across the US each year. Statistics showabout 70% of shelter cats are euthanized.

It's estimated TNR programs can decrease the stray cat populations by nearly 60%.