When faced with an emergency situation involving an animal on your property, it is important to know who to contact for advice and information. Depending on the community, the local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office may be responsible for responding to such issues. In some cases, the Department of Health may also be able to provide assistance. Animal control departments and other local authorities are often in charge of enforcing laws related to the care and control of animals. This may include ordinances that affect outdoor cats.
In many cases, these departments are supportive of trapping, neutering and returning (TNR), as they understand that this is in the best interest of cats and the community. Animal control officers may be city employees or contractors, and some may have the power to arrest or issue citations. It is important to research the local animal control center in your area. You can do this by calling your city government or searching for a “Local Government Guide”. In emergency situations (called pressing circumstances), an officer may be able to search your property without a court order. You are not required to tell an animal control officer when and where to feed cats.
You can exercise your right to remain silent if you feel that your rights are being violated. Ask the officer what specific ordinance requires you to catch cats, as it is rare for the law to require a caregiver to do so. If you are unsure if an animal has been orphaned, contact your state's wildlife agency or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for help.