Lies, Damn Lies, and TNR

The famous American satirist Mark Twain once wrote, “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  Were he alive now, plenty of opportunities would abound for him in respect to the falsity that is TNR today.  What began as a good effort based on limited data has become today a major industry for certain ‘non-profits’ and other humane organizations who make millions of dollars from un-owned feral cats.  Playing off the giant hearts of animal lovers across America, these organizations are driving a message that is simply not true; and is becoming dangerous.

facebook cat in dumpster ad copyUnfortunately, some organizations are spreading inaccurate information about the risks associated with feral cats.  Foremost of those organizations is that of Alley Cat Allies.  While fervent advocacy is one thing, we must strongly object when advocacy organizations attempt to create their own facts.  Currently, the ‘fact’ sheet that is published on the web page of Alley Cat Allies is categorically false1.  We cannot allow long standing public health policies to be overturned based on false information.  There is a reason the Florida Department of Health takes the position stated in the 2012 Rabies Guide.  No amount of passionate, emotional advocacy to the contrary changes the scientific facts!


FALSE:  Alley Cat Allies:  “No Danger From Rabies – The notion that stray cats spread rabies is another empty argument used by advocates of catch and kill programs.”1

TRUE:  U.S. Centers for Disease Control:  “Domestic species accounted for 8% of all rabid animals reported in the United States in 2010. The number of reported rabid domestic animals decreased among all domestic species except cats.  In 2010, cases of rabies in cats increased 1.0% compared with the number reported in 2009. The number of rabies cases reported in cats is routinely 3-4 times that of rabies reported in cattle or dogs.”2  In 2010, 455 people in Florida had to get rabies shots as a result of a cat attack!3

While we may all be entitled to our own opinion, we are not entitled to our own set of facts.  Unfortunately, feral cat groups use classic misdirection tactics to attempt to defeat logic and reality.  These groups routinely twist and distort real facts, with the ultimate result being that truth becomes gray and shaded.  Scientific fact is not gray, particularly when discussing well settled medical principles.  We call on Alley Cat Allies to correct their “fact sheet” to correspond more closely with settled science, and to join us in finding better solutions than trap-neuter-reabandon.

As a result of the current situation, it is past time for the veterinary profession in America to finally address this challenge.  We must find new and more innovative methods to lower the feral cat population in our country; and we must do so within the boundaries of settled science.  AWAKE! in Hillsborough County is the effort by the Hillsborough County, Florida veterinarians who are awake to the challenge, up for the effort, and experienced and qualified to find solutions!

Join us in our effort and AWAKE! to a healthier tomorrow for everyone: two-legged, four-legged, and feathered!




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