The AVA wrote back about their policy change over the weekend and we sent a reply today.
The AVA said replied that they felt it would be irresponsible to return the cats after the TCs have caught them should the cat be found to have caused a nuisance of be found near a food centre. They said that in the past, they had returned the cats when a letter was furnished by the TC.
It was stated that during SARS when the cats caught was quite large that they returned them to the caregivers. However this practice was not found to be working well. Also they felt that circumstances had changed and that the TCs did not trap as many sterilised cats now.
The email also stated that the TCs had met with the AVA recently and that they had complaints from the TCs about irresponsible and demanding feeders who were abusive to the TCs.
We replied that as far as we were aware, caregivers were allowed to claim the cats back with or without the letters - the difference was in whether the cats had to be microchipped or not. Also, if the cats are taken off the streets and into caregivers' homes as an undertaking for the cats to be returned if there was no letter.
In addition, we stated that to cancel a programme because the TC deals with a few difficult residents is a shame. At the same time, we see the TCs dealing with difficult residents who complain about the cats all the time. We reiterated that we felt that difficult residents, whether they be complainants or caregivers, should not be dealt with and this will help solve matters. It's a matter of common courtesy - not something to do with the cats.
It is unusual that the TC should feel that these cats which cause 'nuisance' are removed from the streets and are still causing them problems. Perhaps these aren't even the same cats causing the problem, the vacuum effect is coming into play or that the problem was not resolved at the root cause. If not, and the cats are removed, then why should the TCs be unhappy? As far as I know, most caregivers do not release the cats back onto the streets again if they were caught because of fear that the cats will definitely be put down if caught again. If so and removal is working so well, then why is there still an issue?