Protecting “Feral” Cats: A Law and Policy Discussion

(263 Ratings)

Produced on: December 08, 2016

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 90 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

It’s estimated that nearly three-quarters of cats who enter our nation’s animal shelters each year don’t make it out alive. Most are unowned, free-roaming “feral” cats, many of whom are not suitable for adoption into homes. Shelter-based community cat programs, based on the trap-neuter-return (TNR) method of population management, are becoming increasingly common because they can dramatically reduce feline intake and euthanasia, offer a non-lethal alternative for managing the population of “feral” cats, and enjoy broad public support.

However, there are a number of legal and policy considerations that must be addressed in order to implement such programs. Join attorney Richard Angelo and research analyst Peter J. Wolf as they discuss the current legal landscape surrounding unowned, free-roaming cats, as well as the science that underpins the related public policy.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Identify definitions and key provisions of local ordinances that can make or break a community cat program, including owner definitions, abandonment definitions, and at-large provisions
  2. Recognize and discuss the additional issues related to these ordinances, such as the problem with feeding bans, and progressive nuisance-related provisions
  3. Address state statutory considerations
  4. Comprehend Federal statutory considerations
  5. Understand key aspects of the scientific debate over community cat programs, including the efficacy of various management schemes, the alleged wildlife impacts, and the alleged public health impacts


Richard Angelo

Best Friends Animal Society

Richard Angelo, Jr., is a legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society. Focusing on Best Friends’ community cat initiatives, Richard promotes legislation that will humanely and directly reduce the killing of cats in shelters across the country. He was previously a sole practitioner with an office in Davison, Michigan, focusing on companion animal–related matters and litigation, including dangerous dog matters, alternatives to breed-specific legislation, ownership disputes about companion animals, and zoning and ordinance violations regarding companion animals.

He has been a member of the animal law section of the State Bar of Michigan and has served as a council member of that section since 2009. He is also a member of the National Animal Care and Control Association, the American Bar Association, the TIPS Animal Law Committee, and the newly formed Animal Law Committee or the International Law Section. In addition to his work for Best Friends, Richard volunteers at his local animal control shelter and several other animal welfare organizations in Michigan. Richard resides in Goodrich, Michigan, with his wife, four dogs and three cats.

Peter Wolf

Best Friends Animal Society

Peter J. Wolf joined Best Friends in May 2013 as the organization’s cat initiatives analyst, bringing a research-oriented emphasis to a range of communications- and policy-related projects. Peter is also the founder of Vox Felina, a blog featuring in-depth analysis of science and policy issues related to the management of free-roaming cats in general and TNR in particular. Over the past six years, Vox Felina has attracted a devoted audience of community cat advocates and has become an invaluable resource for journalists.

Peter holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial design. His professional experience includes 12 years in the automotive engineering field and nine years teaching in The Design School at Arizona State University. Peter sits on the board of directors of FixNation, one of the country’s most highly regarded low-cost spay/neuter clinics. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with a houseful of rescued cats.


Victoria C.

Excellent presentation. Interesting and informative.

Cullen M.

Very informative. Fascinating topic well presented.

Pamela W.

Very interesting discussion of the many legal issues relating to community cats.

Katie F.

one of the best programs I've seen

Karl O.

I would recommend this program to an attorney who practices animal law or anyone who has an interest in feral cat issues.

Maria P.

Fantastic! So helpful as a foundation for effectuating positive change.

Tamara M.

This program was very interesting. This is not my primary area of law, and I had not realized the plethora of issues involved.

Edward C.

Excellent presentation - interesting, substantive and well organized.

Tara B.

Great, so happy to have this topic covered

Lauren M.

Great job!!

Marshall V.

Excellent job.

Judith S.

It was a good lecture.

Ruth G.

As a cat lover and since I and several of my clients feed community cats, this was most helpful.

Michael V.

Interesting subject in a needed area with stellar presenter. Thanks!

Barbara L.

Very informative!

Julie A. B.

Terrific. Good marriage of law and science.

Clarence S.

Excellent presentation.

Jennifer R.

The attorney was very knowledgeable but I also liked having a non-attorney's perspective.

Barbara F.

Excellently done on an area where it's hard to find information. Thanks!

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