What do I think of the Michigan Humane Society's insistence that there is no legal stray hold period for cats in the state now, and that there shouldn't be?
I am absolutely in favor of sheltering cats in a different way than dogs.
I'm also in favor of completely revolutionizing our sheltering practices and creating a different paradigm for cats than dogs.
And I'm in favor of new approaches and throwing out all the old ways if they're not working.
What I am not in favor of is codifying approaches that create second class citizenship for cats, nor that disrespect the cat-human bond.
And I'm definitely not in favor of reducing the legal stray hold for cats if it gives animal control agencies and shelters the right to kill those cats sooner.
Fortunately, you don't need to abolish hold periods to do better by cats who encounter our shelter system.
For example, I agree shelters are terrible places for cats -- even the best shelters. So stop taking them in if you can't care for them well, and if they are healthy and in good weight.
If you do take them in, photograph them and scan for a microchip. If they seem social and healthy, but have no ID, put them immediately into a foster home and get the photo up on your website and social media as a found cat instantly -- while the cat is still in the field, if at all possible.
Better yet, have your animal control officers post flyers and go door to door in the area where the cat was found, to increase the chances their family will find them.
And if the cat is clearly not social but is healthy and in good weight, then alter him or her and return the cat from whence it came -- where clearly, shelter and food were sufficient to keep the cat healthy and in good weight.
Giving away microchips and breakaway collars with ID on them is good, too.
Just don't institute the half-measure of abolishing the hold period and call it saving cats' lives. It's a tiny little fragment, totally out of context, that carries massive consequences on public perception and policy -- and furthermore, gives comfort and cover to shelters that have no interest in moving these cats out onto the adoption floor, but will instead use the lack of a stray hold as a one-way ticket to the kill room.