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Utah's Cat-astrophic Bill

January 26, 2011 | Cats

Pets are the descendants of animals who once lived in the wild, in their own natural communities, but who have been selectively bred in captivity, to live as our companions in our human homes. Pets are born into a world in which they have no control over anything that happens to them - their well-being is our obligation.

A feral animal is simply a former pet or descendant of former pets, who has learned to survive on his own in a human landscape. Since their ability to survive in the wild is impaired by domestication, feral animals remain the collective responsibility of humans.

Unfortunately, most people seem to believe that we meet our obligations to care for pets and former pets by having them destroyed when we no longer want to deal with them. This is evidently a novel definition of well-being "“ one that we would never want for ourselves.

That brings us to Utah House Bill 210.

You can go here to read it Utah House Bill 210, but I'm happy to summarize.

This bill

• removes pest from the definition of animals.

Normally that would sound like a good thing, and I could see removing animals from the definition of pest, but no, that isn't what this bill intends to do. What it effectively does is remove animal protection laws (skimpy as they already are) from certain animals deemed "pests."

• provides that "torture" doesn't include shooting an animal with the intent to humanely kill the animal.

The operative word here is intent. Even if the animal limps off to die slowly of a wound, as long as the intentions were humane, the result is not considered cruelty or torture. Personally, I can't think of anything more cruel than breeding an animal to depend on humans, and then shooting her for that same crime.

• ensures that the provisions of this bill do not affect or prohibit the humane shooting or killing of an animal if the person doing the shooting or killing has a reasonable belief that the animal or a feral animal.

Even those who don't see humane shooting as an oxymoron should be alarmed by the use of the words reasonable belief here.

• Allows shooting of feral animals to protect the life of the shooter or another person.

How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you is a joke... honest.

Finally, Fiscal Notes on the bill say it all: "Enactment of this bill likely will not result in direct, measurable costs and/or benefits for local governments." My fondest wish is that, come election time, voters in Oda's district will relieve him of his capacity to propose these cruelty-promoting, do-nothing bills.

We cling to the dangerous idea that the way to solve conflicts and problems is through violence and destruction. We don't need laws that reinforce this line of thinking. Face it, we have been trapping, removing, and killing feral cats for decades, and yet, here we still are, with a larger feral population than ever.

What is the solution?

Spay and neuter your pets. Do not adopt a pet that you can't commit to for its lifetime, and never abandon a pet or her litter. Breeding pets is the cause of feral populations and the killing of animals in shelters. Unless we address that, we will always give people like Rep. Oda an excuse to talk about shooting cats.

For existing feral colonies, Trap-Neuter-Return is the only ethical option. Humane traps are used to capture cats, so that they can be spayed and vaccinated, and then are returned to the colony. Killing and removing cats only creates available space for more abandoned pets to live.

It really is that simple, and it really is our responsibility to find non-killing solutions for issues having to do with other living beings.


Friends of Animals Position Statement on Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return

Many organizations, including Friends of Animals, offer low-cost spay/neuter certificates and assistance. In Utah, please see No More Homeless Pets.

For tips on how to minimize conflict with feral animals in your neighborhood, please check out the Alley Cat Allies web site.

To sign petitions against Utah HB 210, visit Alley Cat Allies

Contact information, if you would like to contact Rep. Oda directly to express your concerns.


A sad day if this bill goes thru. Oh, the inhumanity of man!

I can't help seeing a slow eradication of all animals that aren't under factory farming or being hunted for bloodsport. There is more wrong with the human race than any species of animals could ever create. I'm finding it increasingly hard to find any pride in being part of the human race. There's just not alot to be proud of. It all goes back to special interest groups, politics, and greed. Sad commentary on society.

GDiFonzo - It's actually worse than that. Since it's illegal to discharge a firearm in nearly all cities in Utah, it opens up the gateway to killing in other ways, such as clubbing. All the person has to do is claim their intentions were humane and that they believed the animal was feral. It would be nearly impossible to prosecute many animal cruelty cases if this bill were to become law.

In other words, if your neighbor harbors some kind of grudge against you, he could legally shoot your pet under the "reasonable belief" that the animal is feral. Let's say your dog or cat has a habit of peeing on his lawn or making too much noise. If that animal is ever outside without your supervision, s/he could be legally killed. Your neighbor wouldn't even need to prove that the animal is feral. He would just need to state that he "believed" the animal was feral and whoops, he made a mistake. Obviously there is the possibility of a civil suit against him, but that won't bring back your animal. I think the language of the bill creates a dangerous gray area.

We have homeless people as well in the U.S. will there come a day when its O.K. to kill/shoot them because they don't have a home . When did humanity hit its all time low, which I assume will continue to descend into decline. ATT; ALL HUMANS -------------SOON IT WILL BE YOU [with the way the health bill is going it will be soon] Think of the things we could do if we gave as much time to this and other issues as we do for say the Super Bowl or 4th of July Ghandi was right!----Peace ----Marcie

Is Utah seriously going to encourage the shooting of domestic, or any animal randomly, deemed a 'pest' and think this won't lead to cruelty escalation? TNR programs are so successful that to ignore them is just lazy and irresponsible. This bill will promote the random use of guns and usually in the hands of those who don't use them responsibly.

TNR is the proven humane way to reduce cat overpopulation. Killing is always wrong. As humans we should know by now that we should treat all animals humanely. These cats need our help.

This bill is really horrendous for too many reasons -- I can't fit them all in. What??? The gov't wants more gun touting maniacs on the street -- and now they are ABLE TO BY LAW make their own decision to 'shoot.' Give me a huge break ! I don't live in Utah -- but, come on....a lot of people need to grow up !!

This bill is absolutley wrong and to pass something that would even give the "human" a species that allready has at an alarming rate begun to lose respect for not only animals domesticated and wild the idea that it is allright to shoot a domesticated animal that once had a home but though absolutley no fault of its own is now wandering the streets is absurd. We need to stop in our footsteps and look at what we as a whole are becoming . The earth was not made for man alone it is meant to be nurtured and respected and in return in will care for those on its surface all of us animals , man and plantlife. We need to see this before it is to late for all of us .

Like Ghandi said, "A society is judged by how it treats the least among us". Animals who have no voice, need ours. We must value and support all life because all life is interdependent. It is morally aborrent to kill a life simply because it has no home or shelter. We all have a responsibility to provide for and protect beings that live among us.

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