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Councilman: Trap, neuter, release program off to good start in Tinton Falls

TINTON FALLS – A new program to trap, neuter and release (TNR) feral cats is producing initial positive results in Tinton Falls, according to a member of the Borough Council.

Council members recently approved the start-up of the TNR program in the borough, and during the July 16 meeting of the governing body, Councilman Christopher Pak offered an update.

“Since the start of the TNR program, we have trapped 51 cats in the wild,” Pak said. “There were 21 adult cats that were spayed, neutered, microchipped and returned (to their colony). There were 28 kittens recovered which will be placed up for adoption. Two cats unfortunately had to be euthanized.”

Tinton Falls has entered into an agreement with the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA) to administer the TNR program.

Municipal officials named resident Kerry Morgenthaler to represent Tinton Falls on matters related to the TNR program.

“The SPCA has been doing a great job with this and so has Kerry,” Pak said.

Pal also reported that two additional cats were trapped on July 16, bringing the total number of cats that have been trapped to 53.

Council President Gary Baldwin said it has been determined there are six feral cat colonies in the borough, adding, “I had no idea we had that many colonies. You (Morgenthaler) are to be commended for bringing this (issue) to us.”

Council members recently adopted an ordinance that prohibits the feeding of feral cats. The ordinance makes it unlawful for anyone other than caregivers approved by and operating under a TNR program established by the MCSPCA to feed any feral cats in Tinton Falls, whether on private or public property.

The ordinance applies to the feeding of feral cats individually or in a colony, and also to the feeding of stray cats and community cats. All complaints will be handled by and through the MCSPCA, which will establish penalties for violations, according to the ordinance.

A feral cat is any homeless, wild or untamed cat that is unsocialized to humans and has a temperament of extreme fear of, and resistance to, contact with humans. A stray cat is a lost or abandoned former pet which may be suitable for home environments.

The goal of a TNR program is to stop feral cats from reproducing and to eventually end a feral cat colony.

Later in the meeting, Morgenthaler came before the council to ask the members of the governing body to consider requiring individuals who own a cat or cats to license the animals, similar to how a person who owns a dog is required to purchase a license.

“An enforcement officer went to (a home) today to deal with feral cats,” Morgenthaler said. “The resident would not allow the officer onto the property to trap feral cats and we have no enforcement mechanism.”

While acknowledging the issues Morgenthaler raised, Baldwin said he was sympathetic with individuals who could be required to pay for cat licenses.

No decision regarding Morgenthaler’s request to require cat owners to purchase licenses for the animals was made by council members that evening.

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