A new law in Delaware has been passed that will ensure that stray cats are offered the same protection under law as those that have owners. The existing animal cruelty laws that were in place did not apply to strays and this is something that people have been campaigning to change for a long time. The laws come into effect immediately and will make a real difference to the free-roaming cats that make Delaware their home.
House Bill 235 was signed on 1st October by the Governer of Delaware, John Carney. He was accompanied by cat lovers and their cats as the bill was signed into law. Work first began on passing the bill two years ago and so it is something that everyone involved is happy to see come into fruition. A number of animal charities have been involved in the bill, alongside the Office of Animal Welfare, the veterinary community and members of the public. Representatives from these groups were present when the bill was signed along with some of their feline friends.
There are a large amount of free-roaming cats that live in Delaware. The state does not want to rid themselves of these cats altogether but it has become apparent that there is a need to take better care of these cats. Before this bill was placed then there was nothing in place that would allow cats without an owner to get the help that they needed if they were taken to a shelter. This is something that the shelters have not been happy about but in many ways their hands were tied, and this is no longer the case.
One of the most important measures that will come into place with the new bill will see the reduction of the stray population being carried out humanely. Shelters will be given new powers to be able to spay or neuter cats that have been abandoned before they are rehomed or returned to the location that they were found. The amount of time that shelters can keep cats before they would normally put them to sleep has also been extended. This will give the owner more time to come forwards if the cat is owned. Delaware does not have a requirement that cats must be rehomed if they do not have an owner but are visibly healthy. They are able to be returned to the wild as long as it is not a place that is going to cause a nuisance to people or other animals.
Shelters will also be able to vaccinate abandoned cats against rabies which can help to ensure that they live longer and healthier lives, even if they remain a stray. Sterilization means that there will be less cats being born which will help to keep the number of stray cats low. When cats have been sterilized and vaccinated by shelters then they will be ear-tipped so that it can be immediately seen that they have received this treatment. Ear-tipping is a small procedure that is done under anaesthetic. A tiny part of the cats ear in the corner is removed. This is a harmless procedure and does not cause the cat any distress.
It is hoped that a network will be able to be formed between shelters, veterinary clinics and volunteers that pick up cats that they find in distress. This will help the animals get the care that they need quickly. There will also be stricter record keeping guidelines so that if a cat is bought to a shelter or a vets then the person treating the cat will be able to see if it has been treated before. This is something else that will ensure that cat gets appropriate treatment quickly.
This cause is something that is very close to the heart of Governer Carney, who is well known as a cat lover. He has three cats of his own and has been a long time supporter of animal welfare charities. The cause is something that he has cared about for a while and he has been able to use his position as Governor to get the law passed so that more cats in Delaware can get the protection and help that they need.