Remaining cats in feral colony spared death

Grace Johnson

Evanston officials have agreed to work with a Chicago-area humane society to capture, spay or neuter and find homes for the remaining cats in a feral colony found Jan. 24, Evanston Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther said.

Representatives of the Tree House Humane Society, 1212 W. Carmen Ave., reached out to the city after they received a wave of phone calls and e-mails from citizens concerned with Evanston’s plan to euthanize the cats, said Tree House director of development Jenny Schlueter.

Schlueter said she received around 20 responses immediately after Evanston police issued a press release about the colony.

Evanston police found the colony when they were investigating a death at a residence in the 1900 block of Grant Street. Relatives of the deceased were unable to assume responsibility for the cats, although they also contacted Tree House for help with the situation, Schlueter said.

Schlueter immediately attempted to contact Evanston animal control but said she had problems communicating with the city.

“It took me a long time to convince them this was a viable alternative,” she said. “I finally received confirmation on Friday, almost 10 days after I first started talking to them. They are still not 100 percent on board with the plan. We proposed to find caretakers for the cats in Evanston, but they don’t want to do that. They want the cats out of Evanston.”

Before city officials responded, 33 cats were euthanized, Schlueter said. On Saturday, Tree House immediately started work and recovered seven cats.

Schlueter said she is concerned about the circumstances surrounding the previous euthanizations.

“We were very surprised to find that three of the cats we recovered were already spayed or neutered and two of those three were micro-chipped,” she said. “It concerns us that a good portion of the cats that were already killed also could have been spayed or neutered.”City officials could not be reached for comment.

The Cook County Feral Cats Ordinance, passed in 2007, states that before cats are euthanized, they should be scanned to check for a micro-chip and the person who implanted the micro-chip should be contacted. The county ordinance should supersede any municipal ordinance existing in Evanston, Schlueter said.

The cats recovered by Tree House were originally destined for a farm in Indiana, according to a City of Evanston press release, but now they are going to a farm in Manhattan, Ill. Two of the seven rescued cats were young enough to be adopted, Schlueter said.

“That is one happy outcome,” she said. “At least two of the cats will get a home.”

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