“Every year is more terrible than the last year”: sterilizing your cat is mandatory but shelters regret that the step is not always respected

This is an obligation of Brussels and of Wallonia. Sterilizing your cat is mandatory for all owners. And yet, this step was not respected according to Joëlle who contacted us through the orange button Alert us. According to him, sterilization does not matter. How can we enforce the law? Are there penalties? Explanations.

“The law requiring the sterilization of cats in Brussels does not work. More and more cats are found on the streets with kittens because the owners do not sterilize them”. Behind this cry of anger, Joëlle. This cat owner is used to visiting an animal shelter, especially to bring supplies. And every time he walked through the doors, the same feeling passed through him. “My heart hurts. I want to adopt all these cats but it’s not easy. I already have two cats”he said.

Because in this shelter, many cats are taken. Located in Brussels in the United States asbl has one goal: to fight against the proliferation of cats. “We focus on the plight of cats in the toughest neighborhoods where they don’t last long… Where they’ve been under a car or abused”, said Stéphanie Challe, director of the refuge.

Every year is more terrible

In Wallonia, the sterilization of cats has been compulsory since 2017. In Brussels, since 2018. “But on January 1, 2018, however, every cat owner must have it sterilized before it reaches the age of 6 months. If you own a cat that was born without before January 1, 2018, it must be sterilized before July 1, 2018”, specify the Brussels authorities on their website. The purpose of this compulsory sterilization: to limit the number of unwanted births, and therefore abandonment.

However, despite the scale, the Brussels haven we visited was always full. “Every year is more terrible than the last year. We are called everywhere because people do not follow this law”, said the director. Now, the shelter is overcrowded. No additional cats can be accommodated. “Every day, we have to refuse between 10 and 30 requests for care”, Stephanie Challe regretted. Every time a new one arrives, the same observation occurs: the animal is not sterilized. Shelter volunteers therefore take care of transporting the vet.

Jean-François Lardinois, veterinarian, used to sterilize these stray cats. Every year, he performs up to 300 sterilizations. “The increase in cats is worrying. On the one hand, for the cats themselves. All these cats that are born and abandoned are animals destined for non-poisonous lives and that are also responsible for troubles. They are predator so if they don’t have anything. to eat, they have an impact on the wildlife. We have to fight that. I’m in favor of sterilization”, promotes vet.

For this specialist, the measure of the obligation to be implemented does not work. “The results are mediocre. Every year, I still operate on many cats”, he introduced. Not neutering your cat can have unexpected consequences. The risk: that a simple pregnancy becomes exponential. It is possible that in 4 years, this could result in the birth of 20,000 kittens.

According to him, the price is one of the criteria that hinders the fulfillment of that standard. It costs an average of €150 for a woman and €90 for a man. The veterinarian believes that the implementation of sterilization is often complicated despite his obligation. “Maybe we should make it more difficult to own an animal. Today, everyone can have a cat. But not everyone can take care of it”he said.

How to control?

Bernard Clerfayt, Brussels Minister for Animal Welfare, is well aware that these regulations are not always respected. “Sometimes people hesitate to take this step for budget and financial reasons. Others also claim that their cat stays in the apartment, never goes out and does not risk meeting other cats and making child”said the minister.

It is estimated that there are about 130,000 cats in the Brussels region. Among them, only ten thousand were sterilized. There are penalties for non-compliance. If the file goes to the prosecution, the punishment can be from 8 days to 2 years in prison and / or a fine of 50 to 100,000 euros. For its part, the administration can prosecute and set an administrative fine from €50 to €62,500.

But Bernard Clerfayt emphasized that the controls are complex. “I don’t know how to ask the police who have other tasks to do, to enter apartments and check other cats at all. It’s not reasonable”, said Bernard Clerfayt. At the moment, the only weapon in the fight against this problem: knowledge.

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