Ban the three cat rule and Private trapping by residents in New Zealand

  • by: Alexander Kerr
  • recipient: Prime Minister John Key, David Cunliffe Leader of the Opposition, Minister of Local Government Paula Bennett, Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy

The Purpose of this petition is to stop intolerant Councils from removing loved cats just because a families 4th or 5th cat is over an arbitrary 3 cat limit.  Such laws are Draconian, they count on neighbors reporting other neighbors and promote intolerance within communities. This petition is also to ask lawmakers to ban private untrained citizens from being able to put traps on their properties in cities and urban areas because what they do and how they do it cannot be checked or monitored. The type of traps laid could be illegal and how trapped animals are dealt with whether cats or otherwise cannot possibly be checked. It will most assuredly increase cruelty to animals and encourage the next generation to devalue the lives of animals, encouraging cruelty which always progresses to other forms of violence. The law has always taken a dim view of cat killers in the past which has discouraged intolerant people and promoted tolerant attitudes within communities. But with Conservationists encouraging private trapping ( with Council approval ) domestic cats are now at risk.

The Three Cat Rule

There is a silent war being waged on cats in New Zealand by conservationists, led by economist and radical cat hating neo-conservationist Gareth Morgan. A well known Fund manager for Kiwibank's Kiwisaver Super fund in New Zealand, Morgan is spending time and money trying to convince the NZ Government and Local Government as well as the public to reduce cats in New Zealand and keep them inside 24/7. Blaming cats for impacting wildlife, a notion being hotly contested by the Auckland SPCA, his vision is to have a cat free New Zealand and bring native wildlife back to the cities and our backyards completely ignoring the fact that New Zealanders may not want to get rid of their cats to realise his vision or keep their cats inside and deny their cats sun and vitamin D, trees and warm spots to sleep in, just because a millionaire asked them to. Many New Zealanders love their cats, consider them family members and if forced to choose between wildlife in the City and their cats they share their homes with, would choose their cats. However he has recruited, unsurprisingly a lot of support from cat haters across the country who care more about their gardens than they do Conservation and are jumping onto Morgan's bandwagon because it suits them as he pushes for the right to trap cats that stray from their own properties. For many Morgan groupies his campaign has been seen as a green light to openly trap and dispose of neighbors cats caught on their properties and is encouraging others to be intolerant toward their cat owning neighbors and forgo the normal grace neighbours give each other. He is moreover encouraging Councils to bring in arbritary three cat limits and encourage the public to report on their neighbors creating climates of fear and distrust. A trick learned in Nazi Germany. Morgan off course is on record stating that he wants the right to trap and dispose of any cat that comes onto his property. Trapping is not strictly legal and disposing of a neighbours cat definitely is not. He is also on record in a television interview at a 'Pest festival' stating that he wants to see cats hung up beside other pests at the festival. This man already has influenced two Councils to introduce limits. Though Invercargills response has been particularly backward in terms of compassion, tolerance and decency after recruiting Richard King and his encouragement of cruelty.

Late last year the Invercargill City Council in New Zealand introduced a three cat limit for households with absolutely no lead in time for families with more than three cats to reduce their cat familes over time and let their older cats live out their lives in the homes they grew up in and with the families that loved them. After instating the three cat limit Council then proceeded to try and take a local resident with twenty seven cats to Court for breaking their brand new bylaw in spite of the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and it's advice on retrospective law which states "that no one can be convicted of a crime if it wasn't a crime when they did it". Or in other words when the resident got her twenty seven cats there was no limit and she was breaking no law. Introducing a law later is not grounds to prosecute. When Council's efforts were frustrated, Invercargill CEO Richard King suggested to neighbours of the resident that they could take the law into their own hands and trap the residents cats themselves and that they could borrow cages from Council as long as the cages came back empty, adding that no questions would be asked. A local resident Paula Jones enraged by the irresponsibility of King's statement and the abuse of his office for condoning such potential cruelty, started a petition which ultimately forced an apology from Council. But not before cats were trapped and taken. This was Council persecution of a resident, especially when you consider that the resident had successfully de-sexed all twenty seven of her cats, of which many were originally rescued cats and was already working with the local SPCA on a plan to manage her cats.
TV3 in covering Kings apology then claimed that what started it all was the resident, her twenty seven cats and her refusal to get rid of them. They presented the resident as bad and mad by firstly filming the residents house and cats, and then refusing to leave when the resident and her son asked who then got defensive and angry. Anger aside. It was provoked and was 'persecution by media' which we would all understand if it were suddenly 'our' house and 'our cats' they were filming. Remember this lady's only crime was trying to look after cats she had rescued. In turn TV3 portrayed Richard King's irresponsibility and absolute abuse of an his position in Council as just an reactive response to an out of control problem. This was media manipulation. The problem was not out of control. The resident just needed more help with funding the fencing of her property. King's direction was an attack on a private citizen. Grounds for resignation. And it continues as at this time Council have taken the resident to Court again. Television have bought rights to the trial and the judge has allowed publication of the residents name in spite of possible public persecution. Fearing for her cats since the trapping the resident has been keeping all her cats inside allowing Council to try to use health grounds under the 1956 Health Act to prosecute the resident for 'something'. It is an outragous persecution of a person that simply genuinely loves the cats she rescued. 
The Problem: While twenty seven pet cats would be expensive to de-sex and feed the resident has managed to keep them fed and healthy and it's important to note that Councils attack on the resident as well as the residents neighbors complaints have all come since Gareth Morgan started his Campaign in early 2013. The resident is a test case for Council, as while twenty seven cats is unusual, the fact is that five, six or seven cats in a family is not that unusual. And it's these families Council really wants. These families are under threat by the bylaw but if the bylaw is implemented, other provisions will be enforced. Trespass laws, Microchipping and registration. It will affect every cat owner or cat owning family.  What Council are clearly seeking with this residents case is plausible public justification for introducing a cat bylaw that will reduce cat populations in Invercargill after being influenced at a local Government Conference by rich anti cat campaigner and Conservationist Gareth Morgan and his vision of a Cat free New Zealand. Council's position is evident by the fact that even after Council’s apologised for offering traps to residents to trap cats and dispose of them they were still reportedly keen to meet with Gareth Morgan again. With such negative Press and Draconian local Government attitudes toward companion animals, being promoted by Council, the danger of such three cat bylaws is how it activates, polarises and poisens a Community that has traditionally tolerated neighbours pets. With Council promoting the reporting of neighbours with four or five cats or more, as encouraged by John Youngson, the Council’s Environmental Health Manager, division in the community is encouraged and an intolerance toward cats created. It is quite simply intolerant law! Draconian law. Unfortunately for families that have five or six cats in Invercargill and around New Zealand, it is also the sword of Damocles as they quietly wait for Council to attack their families and have to defend themselves in Court. Such bylaws create division and hate in communities as well as encouraging increased cruelty toward animals. At the time of writing a petition is being circulated to try and get Facebook to remove a video showing teenagers setting a kitten on fire and watching it convulse and die in pain. Such attitudes come from parents who hate cats, or who never thought to teach their children compassion and the value of life. With Council campaigning against cats by setting limits and encouraging neighbours to report those over the limit they actively take a part in devaluing these pets lives in the eyes of the community as well as the young. A blogger Cameron Slater, writing on the case, stated in one of his recent blogs that he feels "once a cat is in your garden, it should be considered lost or abandoned property. Take it to the police and when they refuse to accept it you can dispose of it as you see fit." With such attitudes the Mayor of Invercargill is lucky his own cat made it home after being missing for days. Such laws leave our hearts at the mercy of our neighbors. 

In addition the bylaws discourage those good compassionate people that try to rescue dumped or abandoned pets and feed and rehome them from doing so. Such three cat by laws must be banned if we are to have a society that values life as well as tolerance. The fact is many families have more than three cats and have up until now had no problems with neighbours because of normal tolerance and a willingness to get on, where 'intolerance' only breeds grief for a cats family and hate in return, for the intolerant. For a family with healthy animals and no previous complaints to suddenly be made criminals is wrong. To have to get rid of a loved pet that is healthy and loved is wrong and a 'human rights' violation. Not to mention heartless and immoral. A lead in time would at least have shown some respect. We ask the Minister for Local Government to ban the three cat bylaw for all Councils in New Zealand in favor of a more humane approach and to tell the Invercargill City Council to stop asking residents to report on their neighbors. 


Private Trapping

We ask the Minister to ban trapping by private citizens and ask that the Conservation and wild animal act be enforced by only allowing those employed by DOC or Council or with permission from the Minister to trap and kill humanely in the bush or around towns and cities. In Dunedin, the Portobello Biodiversity Group, as reported in the Dunedin paper 'The Star' by environment reporter Dan Hutchinson on July 31st, with the heading “Possum control tactics adjusted”, is teaching private citizens to trap Possums around and within Dunedin City limits with the blessing of Dave Cull and the Dunedin City Council, using Timm traps, which are inhumane, as well as live capture traps, which will invariably capture residential and community cats, which may well be a future goal based on previous 'Star' articles. A common approach to killing a trapped cat as explained at one of their meetings by a member was blunt force trauma to the head of a cat. Apart from the possible struggling requiring several attempts it is noted that euthanasia by blunt force trauma has been outlawed for use on calves by Farmers after a report from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Council. Surely the use of blunt force trauma on cats or possums would be illegal also. We ask that a ban on private trapping be enforced with penalties. Conservation and not biodiversity should be the ‘humane goal’ for a society as conservation is about conserving a species where Biodiversity is the ‘science’ of killing little animals and conservationists should not be teaching private citizens to trap. This is not the way forward and should not be the goal of any civilized society. Such widespread killing does not make us clean and green. Just cruel.  Please sign and help affect change and keep the public from setting traps near your fenceline.

Update #34 years ago
A Dunedin man working for the Otago Community Trust has told that cats are being caught in traps called FENN traps, which are being laid around the city. These traps have spring loaded platforms that snap up toward the wall of the trap when a cat steps onto it supposedly crushing the animal but doesn't kill cats straightaway. The worker says they are only checked every three days. Many cats are caught, a few are found dead, the rest suffer greatly.
Update #24 years ago
The fight is on. Quote from Contain Cats NZ: "Would everyone who would like to see subsidised traps made available by the Morgan Foundation nationwide, not just in the Wellington Region, please take a moment to read and 'like' Gareth's comment in the replies - the one that explicitly asks for 'likes' to help gauge interest in extending the trapping program so it would be nationwide. - TIA!" My comment: For New Zealand to be a humane society we must find humane ways of doing things.

Update #14 years ago
In the case against the woman with twenty seven cats by the Invercargill City Council for not reducing her family of twenty seven cats to just three after the introduction of a new bylaw limiting families to just three cats, Simon Claver Barrister, acting for the woman has said to Judge turner that depending on funding he will now ask for a ruling from the High Court as to the legality of the new Three cat bylaw. Should the three cat rule be upheld many other families may be affected.
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