MATAWAN — A plan to trap feral cats and possibly kill them? Scratch that.

Matawan's Animal Advisory Committee, which consists of the Matawan municipal business administrator and animal control officer, handed out notices on police letterhead on Tuesday to residents of Ned Drive, Chestnut Drive and Sonia Avenue about a plan to capture feral and roaming cats.

If the animals were not claimed within seven days, they would be "destroyed by the Monmouth County SPCA.”

The problem was that no one told the police department or the MCSPCA about the plan. And fans of more humane methods of handling feral felines got their dander up.

Matawan police said their department had no say in creating the policy or implementing the plan.

"The Matawan Police Department does not condone or authorize the destruction of animals," the department said in its statement, adding that the program had been discontinued.

Monmouth County SPCA did not endorse

MCSPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra, who also serves on the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners, said he started getting calls Tuesday night from residents and others across the state upset about the policy, which he said runs contrary to the MCSPCA's mission.

"We're the largest trap-and-release provider in the state of New Jersey. And we always find creative and alternate ways to save healthy community cats either to return them back to where they belong, or find alternate locations for them," Licitra told New Jersey 101.5.

Licitra said he immediately reached out to Chief Thomas J. Falco Jr. to find out about the plan. Falso explained the decision was made by the Animal Advisory Committee and not his department.

"Of course, nobody at any time ever consulted the Monmouth County SPCA or asked our permission to use our name, or confirm that we would euthanize cats after seven days unclaimed by their owners, which of course, again, I repeat, we never do that, especially healthy cats. We only euthanized at the shelter for retractable animals, and of course, dangerous animals, vicious dogs and so forth."

An offer to help find a solution

Licitra offered the MCSPCA to help the borough come up with a solution for their feral cats. He's also talked to Mayor Joseph Altomonte and Borough Administrator Scott Carew, who assured him the program has been canceled. There will no trapping until a better solution is found.

"I explained that I understand there can be issues with community cats but there are certainly humane alternatives rather than rounding them up and euthanizing them all," Licitra said. "I think there's going to be some really good that comes out of this, I think they're going to get right into a TNR program."

Altomonte and Councilwoman Melanie Wang, who heads the Animal Advisory Council, did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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