The discovery of a rabid stray kitten in Front Royal is an alarming symptom of the homeless-cat crisis and of misguided efforts to address it (“Rabid kitten captured, euthanized in Front Royal,” June 24).
Under pressure from “no kill” lobbyists, increasing numbers of animal shelters are refusing to shelter cats and are trapping, neutering, and re-abandoning (TNR) them instead. Such programs are expected to contribute to the number of people exposed to rabid cats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s because homeless cats’ food stations attract wildlife (and cats), which aids the spread of rabies from one animal to another and from cats to humans.
Even if cats are vaccinated for rabies before they’re abandoned, the vaccine may not take effect for a month, and it’s virtually never attempted to re-trap cats for booster shots, meaning that they can be infected later on. A cat in California tested positive for rabies after going a year without a booster shot. In Florida, a cat who had been trapped, neutered, and re-abandoned tested positive for rabies after biting a person. A local health department representative explained that TNR is “not good for public health.”
TNR is a bad deal, not just for cats – who are sentenced to a short, miserable life dodging traffic, cruel people, parasites, severe weather, and contagious diseases – but also for the people who come in contact with them when the animals are sick or dying of rabies.
Animal Care & Control Issues Manager,
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk