Traps used as method of catching animals

Published 4:52 pm Saturday, November 6, 2010

Community Service Officer Jim Dugan estimates he catches about 400 to 600 animals a year. That’s not counting the years where those numbers go up, since it varies from year to year.

“If I catch them, they’re going to generally go to the pound,” Dugan said.

One of the ways he does that is through the use of live traps, which helps catch small animals such as feral cats, raccoons, opossums and “anything that can fit in there.”

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The city’s used live traps, which are most often enclosed cages which trap animals who wander inside them, for quite a while, although there was only one trap when Dugan started out. He purchased two more and accepted a donated live trap several years ago, when he said the need for traps was rising faster than he could set them out for owners.

Austin residents have to call to get traps set near their property, as the city only has three traps available for wayward animals. One of the traps had previously disappeared, and Dugan said he still hasn’t figured out where that trap went to.

Although many animals like raccoons and opossums are caught, the live traps often catch feral cats, who wander the streets. According to Kelly Rush of the Mower County Humane Society, feral cats are more often found during the warmer months of the year, when they can breed more easily and people aren’t as willing to adopt them.

“This isn’t quite as true as it’s used to be,” Rush said.

Dugan and Rush have found if winters are a little more mild, there are still cats running wild.

“Animals that are out there that aren’t cared for and (do) not have an owner are going to end up being subject to the weather or traffic,” Dugan said.

Worse, the Mower County Humane Society can’t take in feral cats at the shelter. Therefore, feral cats who get sent to the pound are more likely to be euthanized, especially if CSOs think the cats may not be up to date with rabies shots.

If residents want to avoid their pets being destroyed, they should get them tagged and make sure animals aren’t wandering around outside, Dugan said.

“It’s common sense to the owner, if you’re the owner of your pet, whether it be a cat or dog or some other domestic animal, you’re responsible for it,” Dugan said. “The law says the animals are property to the owners who own them and they are required by law to take care of these animals. They still are required by law to take care of their property.”