LONG BRANCH: The city is hosting a meeting on its new initiative to help control the feral cat population.
The purpose of the meeting is to review, discuss and hear public comments about an agreement between the city and the Monmouth County SPCA to implement a Trap Neuter and Release (TNR) program for cats in the city.
TNR is a program through which free-roaming cats are humanely trapped; sterilized and medically treated; and returned to the outdoor locations where they were found. Cats found suffering with terminal or untreatable illnesses or injuries are humanely euthanized.
SPCA and health department officials will review program guidelines, sponsorship requirements and other standards.
The meeting will be held at city hall on Wednesday, Jan. 17 from 6-7 p.m.
In October, the city adopted a resolution in support of the TNR program and is in the process of rolling it out.
There is some money involved with implementing the program as the cost to trap, neuter and release each cat is $75. However, that cost will be split with SPCA, so would be $37.50, up to 100 cats per year, for total possible cost of $3,750 annually for the city. Long Branch Business Administrator Kevin Hayes said the total cost is about half of what the city has spent this year trying to contain the cat population.
Earlier this year, the city adopted an ordinance which requires cats to be licensed.
The licensing fee is $3 for a spayed or neutered cat or $5 for one that has not been fixed. According to the ordinance, any cat that at least 7 months old and is "owned, kept, harbored or maintained" by a city resident during the course of a year for at least 10 days will now require a license.
The ordinance also puts a cap on the number of feral cats that can be kept in a colony at nine. This cap will go into effect in four years from the adoption of the ordinance and would only apply to feral cats, not indoor felines.
If a colony were to become a nuisance, the ordinance helps the city identify an owner of a colony and holds them responsible for correcting the situation. Not addressing a situation can incur a penalty of $100.
Long Branch Animal Control Director Sydney Johnson said the ordinance does not to be changed in any way to accommodate the TNR program.