Dealing with Animal Control is not what most people have in mind for a good day. But as cat parents, we need to be prepared for anything – Animal Control included.

It’s important to realize that Animal Control exists as an agency of public safety. They perform a number of duties that help countless animals in need: rescuing animals in distress, reuniting lost animals with their owners, and handling nuisance calls. They also work for our local governments – so we need to understand the laws regarding animals in our area. Animal Control will be the agency to enforce these laws regarding our cats.

Be aware of any laws that limit the number of cats that cat reside at one residence. Check to see if there are laws about indoor/outdoor cats. What are the laws about feline vaccinations in your area? What are your legal options if you choose to avoid annual vaccines?

Finding answers to these questions is part of being a proactive pet parent. Unfortunate situations can arise wherein having these answers handy will be critical for making the best decision – while remaining calm. Remember: Your cat will be the one most impacted by these decisions. You need to be ready to make an informed decision in your cat’s best interest. Not yours.

A vivid example is what happened to our neighbors.

They care for a neighborhood (declawed) stray who has adopted them. Sometimes he even comes inside to hang out. They decided they should take him into the vet – for the first time since he showed up nearly 6 years ago. Long story short, their cat bit a vet tech while the vet staff was trying to restrain the cat. [Side-note: In situations where a scared, declawed cat is being handled by scared or rough humans, it’s not unusual for this cat to bite. His first defense – his claws – have been removed, and biting becomes his only defense]

This cat bite resulted in the domino effect of protocols being followed. Even though the vet let our neighbors take their cat home, the report was filed – and Animal Control showed up at their home to take their cat away for a 10 day quarantine. You can imagine how intense the exchange became very quickly. They were not at all prepared to be dealing with Animal Control.

In our area, there are only three options to consider in this situation: Allow Animal Control to take their cat to the shelter for 10 days; Take their cat to an approved boarding facility for 10 day – and pay the daily boarding fee; Or – accept a criminal citation for refusing supervised quarantine.

They chose to accept the criminal citation.

This whole experience provided us with a few important take-aways:

  1. Find a vet that is comfortable with handling cats. This situation could have been completely avoided in a Fear Free facility. Worth noting that after the bite, the cat was thrown in a covered bucket ‘to calm down’. This is not acceptable.
  2. Understand our rights under our local laws regarding our cats. It’s not Animal Control’s job to educate us about established law. That’s our civic duty – and part of being a proactive pet parent.

While we hope no one has to go through an experience like this, it’s far better to be prepared and informed before such an emotional encounter. Making a decision in our cat’s best interest is far easier when we are already aware of our rights and best options.


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