Annette Betancourt needs signatures on her petition at change.org, which seeks to change a city ordinance in Liberty, Missouri. The city law effectively makes it against the law for people to care for feral cat colonies and conduct TNR. Liberty sets a limit of four cats upon city residents, and used that limit to cite Annette for her efforts helping her area’s feral cats. Annette follows the law by limiting her personal pet cats to four.
Annette discovered cats living in the woods near her home when she moved to Liberty in 2008, and she began to help them responsibly, by carrying out TNR. After neighbors learned of her activities, some complained, and she was cited last spring for breaking the law.
Liberty Police Lieutenant Andy Hedrick oversees the Liberty Animal Shelter. He says he understands the arguments for TNR but, as of last spring, was not supportive of Annette’s efforts to change the law. He told a reported from local channel Fox4, “People have good intentions when they try to care for a feral colony, I don’t doubt that for a moment. We have to worry about the big picture, worrying about disease, responding to nuisance behaviors.”
Below is Annette’s open letter asking for change, reprinted from her petition. A link to the petition follows.
I am a feral colony caretaker living in Liberty, Missouri and I was charged last spring with harboring too many animals, as the city claims the feral cats are mine. While these cats aren’t mine, I took the initiative to do something positive to prevent more unwanted litters from being born and to date I have spayed and neutered over 12 cats. I also provide my TNR experience to help others who need help trapping a cat in order to spay or neuter it. This petition is important to me because my colony has a right to live without fear of being rounded up by animal control and killed.
I assisted the Chief of Police in Ferrelview with trapping 12 cats – 12 cats that are now spayed and neutered. I also rescued a kitten, who went into foster care and has since been adopted
I helped a lady in Gladstone trap a female cat who otherwise would have ended up pregnant again, giving birth to more unwanted kittens. I found a foster mom for 2 of the kittens and they have been adopted into new homes.
I assisted a lady in Barry Harbor trap a male cat and he is now neutered – I met her at their annual neighborhood event and demonstrated how to use a humane trap.
I instructed a lovely couple in Gladstone in the use of a humane trap. They trapped and TNR’d a female cat and most recently her 5 kittens!
Without people like me, the people mentioned above wouldn’t know who to reach out to for help with trapping. Together, we’ve made a difference in helping control the feral cat population, HUMANELY.
It’s very important that the city change their ordinance to allow for feral cat colony caretakers to provide the invaluable service of TNR (trap, neuter, return) and to care for feral cats. Feral cats are cats born outside and usually unsocialized to people. Feral cats are created as a result of irresponsible people not spaying or neutering their cats and either abandoning them or letting them go outside and as a result ending up pregnant.
I support humane standards of care for outdoor cats and don’t believe that it is okay to kill animals just because they aren’t socialized to people!
Remember that a feral cat is merely a cat unsocialized to humans. Feral does NOT mean diseased, dangerous or sickly!
Please sign my petition and share with all of your friends and family, and encourage them to sign too!
by Annette Betancourt
Petitioning City of Liberty, Missouri Council Members
This petition will be delivered to:
Greg Duncan City of Liberty, Missouri Council Member Jeff Moore City of Liberty, Missouri Council Member
The Governor of MO: Please change your ordinance to allow for feral cat colony caretakers
You can sign the change.org petition HERE.
News report on Annette’s difficulties, from March of 2012