Monday, June 11, 2012

Unintended consequences

Didn’t get the result you wanted?  You are probably a victim of unintended consequences.  Here is the Wiki article on the subject:

I like to think that most of us want the best in everything.  We don’t choose disaster, do we?  No, we want the best for everyone and everything.  We want to leave things better than the way we found them.  I like to think that about everyone, anyway.

I’ve been picking on dog owners a lot on this blog.  Not all of them or even most of them, but many of them.   Poorly cared for dogs are a public health and safety disaster.  Poorly cared for dogs make their presence KNOWN to all.  If a dog has a problem, everyone around him has a problem.  First and foremost, a dog can create an absurd amount of noise driving everyone in the vicinity insane with those shrill, explosively loud exclamations. 

Today, I am going to pick on cat owners.  Keep in mind that I am a cat owner, and very much a cat person.  Cats are clean, cats are quiet, cats are independent, cats are cool.  If a cat has a problem, they are not quite so in-your-face about it.  Cats can be very sneaky, and will operate under the proverbial radar.

There was a discussion thread started under one of my essays about “TNR”.  TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, and Release.  It is a program intended to reduce feral cat populations in various areas in the United States.  A “feral” cat is a free roaming outdoor cat with no human "owner" and is often non-socialized with humans.  Note that it IS the same species as the house cat, felis catus:

Feral cats are house cats, or descendents thereof, that have been dumped by human owners.  These cats live in dangerous, filthy conditions under bridges, in abandoned buildings, sewer systems, etc… They live short, brutish lives rife with disease and malnutrition.  They feed on trash, native wildlife, and any tidbits left by sympathetic humans.   They spread disease to humans, each other, and other animals.  They threaten native wildlife populations. 

There are an estimated SIXTY MILLION feral cats in the United States. These cats tend to congregate in so-called "colonies".

This website says it a lot better than I can:  read through the website in its entirety, it is mind-blowing.  Note this is just an example, as there are feral cat colony nightmares all over the country. 

In short, the result of “maintaining” these feral cat colonies includes but is not limited to:
-          Rabies outbreaks, including rabid cats attacking humans.
-          Outbreaks of toxoplasmosis. 
-          “Management” of TNR “facilities” (colonies) is a sick joke.  How any cat lover could tolerate these conditions is way beyond me.
-          This program creates a perverse incentive for irresponsible cat owners to dump their pets in these “colonies”.  These pets are not spayed/neutered and thus add to the problem. 
-          Essentially creates miserable conditions for cats that have been bred to be human companions. 

It is clear that we have completely, utterly failed in maintaining our cat population.  The “maintenance” of these feral cat colonies has created the following unintended consequences:
-          It gives irresponsible cat owners an “out”:  They can now dump them in these colonies and just figure they will be cared for.  Hey, its better than euthanization at the city pound, right?  RIGHT??
-          The dumped animals are usually NOT spayed/neutered and breed uncontrollably.  You can trap all you want, but the irresponsible cat owners are one step ahead of you with all their DUMPING.
-          These colonies create a health hazard for human beings as toxoplasmosis, rabies, and other diseases are spread by these colonies.

You see, the fundamental flaw in TNR is the assumption that there will be NO NEW ADDITIONS to the colonies.  You figure:  “Hey, we will trap all of these cats, spay them and re-release them and eventually the problem will go away”.  Yeah, right, but AGAIN the irresponsible cat owners are one step ahead of you all the way.  Pursuant to the article, intact cats get dumped at a high rate, burgeoning the feral cat population.  Moreover, house-cats are not fit to live in these conditions.  They are NOT wild animals.  Whatever survival instinct they have left will result in a devastation of bird and small mammal wildlife.  They pee and poop everywhere, too. 

The root cause of this problem is irresponsible cat owners that allow their pets to breed uncontrollably.  They allow their cat to have kittens to show their kids the “miracle of birth” but of course no one wants the cats, so they get dumped at the pound or a feral colony.

The solution to this problem is strict controls on breeding.  Mandatory registration for ALL dogs and cats and if you want a “breeder” you pay BIG BUCKS for a breeder license.  I’m thinking well into the thousands of dollars.  This should be a strict compliance issue and failure to comply be a major felony.

Is this horror scenario the outcome we wanted?


  1. Animal Uncontrol, you are playing my song!

    I can't tell you how many times I've had to remove the shredded bodies of cat-killed birds from my yard. And cleaning the urine off my doors. That's really fun too.

    Not to mention the crap in my gardens. I've had to put a lattice work of thorny mesquite branches over them so that the feral cats don't use my gardens as their toilets.

    As far as I'm concerned, the initials TNR are just fine. But the "R" should stand for "Remove." As in, remove the cats from the outdoor environment. Because they don't belong there. They're too destructive.

    Thank you so much for this post.

  2. Splendid writing!

    Every government's politicians should read this and legislate accordingly.

  3. Thanks for the food for thought re TNR and the link to that very intelligent site.

    Really I think most of all there are way too many of us, and of that 'us' way too many are behaving as unthinking consumerists towards way too many animals (not only domestic ones). At this point all I can do is agree with your final paragraph.

    This post made me very sad, just simply by the truth of it.

  4. Dogs and cats should be "fixed" and chipped at the mill by law. Then with the "VIN" registered like cars as they walk off the production line. Buyers should have a license to own a pet like we already do with cars.

    If you want to breed (open a new plant) you pay BIG bucks for the priviledge including getting unfixed animals. Except for a select few manufacturers like the Big 3, all the pets are fixed. THIS would slow the euthanisation rate like nothing else. Cars don't spawn little cars. Neither should pets for normal consumer enjoyment.