Neighbors in Ft. Bend County raise concerns over feral cat catch and release program

ROSENBERG, Texas (KTRK) -- A new pilot program changes the way Fort Bend County handles feral cats, but it's under fire from some neighbors after an employee didn't follow the policy.

The kennels have been full at the Fort Bend County Animal Services building.

It is a problem that's had an effect on feral cats.

In 2017, 486 feral cats were euthanized.

Instead of killing the animals, county commissioners recently changed an ordinance allowing animal services to catch and release the cats.

The program is not sitting well with all neighbors.

"They should try and find somebody to adopt it," Rosenberg resident Craig Brady said. "Turning it loose to me is more cruel than euthanizing it."

What's even more upsetting to Brady is an officer released a cat on his street Tuesday.

"Turning it loose out here allows it to starve to death or be chased and eaten by coyotes," Brady said.

Here's how the new program works: If a neighbor catches a feral cat, animal services tags, fixes, and vaccinates it. Then, the officer is supposed to return the cat to the same area.

The cat released on Brady's street was caught in the Pecan Grove neighborhood, which is 11 miles away.

Since he didn't follow protocol, animal services said the employee was reprimanded and it has addressed the issue with its members.

"We just ask that the community be a little patient with us right now as we work through the kinks of the program," Fort Bend County Animal Services community involvement coordinator Barbara Vass said.

Vass said catch and release is more humane than euthanizing animals.

"Most of these cats, that is their environment," Vass said. "They do know how to survive. Cats have survived for tens of thousands of years outside on their own. They know what they're doing."

The program is funded by a grant.

So far, 32 cats have been released through the program. As more get caught, neighbors just hope employees don't release cats into new areas.

"It's nice that they admit that they weren't supposed to dump it out here, but I don't think they should be dumping the cats anywhere," Brady said.

Right now, the pilot program is only in Richmond and Needville.

Employees know neighbors may not like to see the cats returned to their streets.

A way to avoid feral cats on your property is to use motion sprinklers or put coffee grounds on the edge of your yard.

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