City Council Votes to Repeal Regulation of TNR by Dept. of Health!

Following 8/17 hearing, Intro 918 poised to become law

August 24, 2012

The City Council has voted to release the Dept. of Health (DOH) from its obligation to issue regulations governing Trap-Neuter-Return in New York City!  

In September 2011 legislation passed by the Council mandated that DOH promulgate rules concerning the practice of TNR in NYC. On August 23, 2012 the Council moved to repeal that provision by voting in favor of Intro 918, formerly amendment to Local Law 59 (2011). The vote follows a hearing held one week prior, on August 17 before the City Council Health Committee. Testimony presented at the hearing by Neighborhood Cats and others urged Council members to support the continued growth of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in New York by passing the amendment.

Since 2011, when DOH was ordered to regulate TNR in New York City it has been Neighborhood Cats' position that such regulation posed a needless threat to a city-wide program that had been flourishing, for more than a decade, without government intervention. We applaud the City Council's decision with respect to this amendment. To read Neighborhood Cats' testimony, see below.

In addition to repealing the Department's obligation to issue rules governing the practice of TNR, Intro 918 will require DOH to maintain a listing on its website with links to groups engaged in TNR activity in NYC. The Mayor is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks; Intro 918 will then be effective immediately. We will share further information as it becomes available.

Neighborhood Cats statement
August 17, 2012
City Council Health Committee
Re: Amendment of Local Law 59 (2011)

Neighborhood Cats, more than any other organization, is responsible for the growth of Trap-Neuter-Return in New York City. We were the first to introduce TNR on an organized basis back in 2000 when we saw the tremendous need. Since then, we have trained over 4000 NYC residents to perform TNR safely and in compliance with local laws, resulting in the spay/neuter of tens of thousands of feral cats. We led the original TNR project on Rikers Island, and have performed similar projects with numerous city agencies, including the Departments of Sanitation, Transportation and Police, as well as the Medical Examiner's Office and the NYC Housing Authority. We operate free trap banks, provide hands-on assistance for TNR, and maintain a database tracking over 1300 cat colonies and 13,000 cats. Working with Animal Care & Control, we have an 85% save rate for TNR'ed cats turned into their facilities.

We are a national leader in the animal welfare field, having produced many of the primary educational materials on Trap-Neuter-Return. We host one of the most popular websites on TNR (, present at conferences throughout the U.S., offer grants and mentoring to other communities, and served as a consultant to The Humane Society of the United States when they decided upon their current pro-TNR policy.

Despite our preeminent position, the authors of Local Law 59 did not consult us when drafting the provisions at issue today. Had they asked our opinion, we would have said what we respectfully advise the Committee: the law mandating regulation by the DOH is completely unnecessary and potentially harmful. Unnecessary because the development of TNR in NYC has been a model of responsible, effective work by the private sector in cooperation with municipal authorities. Neighborhood Cats has always maintained a good relationship with the Dept. of Health and been able to resolve all issues that have arisen. After 12 years, there has not been a single case of serious injury or litigation resulting from our work. There is simply no need for government oversight in this area. Local Law 59, in its present state, could inadvertently disrupt a system that is functioning and developing well.

Therefore, we fully support the proposal to make DOH regulation permissive rather than mandatory, and to post available TNR resources on the DOH website. We would even recommend going one step further and repeal the provisions in question entirely. We thank you for the opportunity to express our views.