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Expert Blog

Case Study: Feral Cat Handling

Background:
In order to deal with a feral cat problem, a Melbourne council issued a notice that citizens would be paid for capturing feral cats and handing them over to the local council ranger. The plaintiff had captured a feral cat in his own cage, to transfer it to the local council. While transferring the cat to the council’s cage, the cat escaped and the plaintiff was mauled. As a result of the attack the plaintiff had a high percentage “whole person impairment” and suffered from toxoplasmosis, which resulted in them being highly attracted to cat urine. The plaintiff sued the local council for negligence.

ExpertsDirect were retained to provide an expert witness in with dealing feral cats, to comment on how the situation had been handled. The expert witness we suggested for the matter was a pest control specialist with more than 30 years’ experience in the assessment and management of pest control issues. In their career they had received awards for their contribution to pest management and had acted as an advisor for the New Zealand Government in the implementation of pest control plans.

Question(s) for Expert Witness:

  • What is the basis for your expertise in the safe handling and transportation of feral cats?
  • To provide an opinion as to the adequacy, in particular in relation to safety of the procedure adopted by the ranger for the transfer of the cat between the two cages. Was the upkeep of the carriage consistent with industry standards?
  • To provide details of any relevant Australian standards for the transfer of animals from one cage to another in the circumstances outlined and whether the standards were met in the circumstances of this case.

 

Expert Witness Response:
“In my career in Pest Management I have carried out many trapping programs for feral cats.  I did in fact begin trapping feral cats as a child on  our bush property for my father who was also in Pest Management.
…Trapped cats are extremely nervous and trapping must be carried out in accordance with the relevant animal welfare legislation. I am of the opinion that the policy of transferring the cats to Council traps exposes the animals unnecessary stress and potential injuries.
…In regard to the question about an Australian Standard regarding the methods of transfer of animals from one cage to another, I searched the Australian Standards Web site and found no Standard that applies. While other documents were referred to that  may cover the transfer of trapped animals from one cage to another, the Code of Practice refers to simply shooting the cat in the cage at a secure location. It is not necessary to transfer the cat from one cage to another so no Standard is required.
The attack on the plaintiff would not have occurred if it were not for the  practice of the Council Ranger to transfer cats from the plaintiff’s cage to the council’s cage.  The injuries that the plaintiff suffered would not have occurred if the negligent procedure adopted by the Council Ranger was not carried out.