NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Feral Cats
Despite what you've heard from self-proclaimed cat whisperers, a feral cat is a wild animal, and once they reach a certain age of wildness, there's no return to domestic behavior.
Shelters across the country who are under pressure to be "no kill" have started refusing feral rescues.
In effect, their euthanasia rates dramatically decrease to the public's applause, but that doesn't mean that area has done anything to deal with their feral cat population.
In North Carolina, there is no State law governing the management of feral cats. There's also no penalty for encouraging their breeding and presence. Sometimes a big heart with little commitment is the bigger problem.
"They go buy a bag of food and put the food out but what they're doing is attracting more and more," warned Officer Stephen Watson. "Word on the street will get out amongst the cat population that that's the best place to go, they got kibble! Breeding will happen and then a breeding explosion of cats. Then we are called in to start trapping them."
Any rescue that can be tamed or exhibits domestic behavior is spayed or neutered at the shelter, then marked with a tattoo for proof before being put up for adoption.
Over 600 surgeries are performed at the NHC shelter annually.
Any feral cat that cannot be socialized has to be euthanized – it's considered a wild animal.
An policy mandated by the county health department says pit bulls cannot be adopted out of the New Hanover County Animal Shelter.
When owners show up looking to hand over their pit, the staff in no uncertain terms lets them know that the pit will be put down.
"Think about this because you have an option, we do not," said Nancy Biszick Ryan, shelter manager. "I don't want you calling five days from now saying, 'well I want to get the dog back,' because I can't bring it back to life. It's your decision; you have to make it. I can't make it for you. I'll support. It's your decision. But don't make me feel guilty because I have to do what I have to do."
Some owners are relieved to hear the heads up and opt to try a rescue group. Others, overwhelmed, do not want to hear the details and leave.
Decades ago the New Hanover County Health Department mandated that pits and chows were too aggressive of a breed to re-home. The shelter has no choice but to comply with the policy.
Centuries ago, the pit bull was used to reel in unruly bulls headed to slaughter.
Their aggressiveness towards other animals became a spectator sport.
In the 1800s "ratting" started where the dogs were placed in pits with rats to see who could kill the most the fastest. Thus, the name "pit bull" was born.