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Feral cat plan goes before Hillsborough Commission

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Claw could come out at the Hillsborough County Commission Wednesday as a controversial plan is presented to reduce the number of cats living in the wild.

Hillsborough Animal services estimates there are more than 200,000 cats living in the county without owners.

Animal Services Director Ian Hallett says each year 10,000 cats come into the shelter and the county is forced to euthanize 8,000 of those.

"About two thousand of those display anti-social behavior here so it's not necessarily possible that they could go into an adoptive home," Hallett said.

To help reduce the number the county is proposing a plan that would allow animal services employees to capture the feral cats, bring them in neuter the cats and them return them to the wild.

The Hillsborough County Veterinary Medical Society is opposed to the idea.  Don Thompson, Executive Director of the Hillsborough Animal Health Foundation doesn't agree with it either.

"It's the perfect storm of risk. When we start feeding outdoor animals, what happens is, we're not able to trap every one of those cats. So, the first thing is, we actually increase breeding, so we're actually making the problem worse, not better," Thompson said.

Thompson says feral cats can bring hook worm and ring worm to humans and they endanger other Florida wildlife.

"The real concern is, that brings other wildlife in and it's the spread of disease that leads the Florida department of health and a lot of other health organizations to state very clearly; trap, neuter and return is not a policy that our counties should endorse," Thompson said.

The meeting starts at 9 AM.  Animal advocates, on both sides of the issues, are expected to pack the commission chambers.

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