Counties and cities in the USA are gradually working out ways to control cat populations with the objective of humanely reducing numbers of stray and unwanted cats. Marion County, Florida has confinement laws, for example.
In Deltona, Volusia County, Florida, USA, the commissioners have worked out a better way, going forward, to solve the so called “feral cat problem”. We know that, in principle, trap-neuter-return is the best route. In fact, it is the only route, if we are honest.
It is cheaper in the long run, it is more effective than ad hoc trapping and euthanizing and it is more humane.
The question is how to organise it?
There are a lot of people who are involved in TNR without local authority involvement. They feed and TNR feral cats. Often this is in breach of city or county law. Sometimes these good and kindly people are criminalised. They are hounded for doing what is correct and humane and in taking up a task that should be the responsibility of the authorities.
In Volusia County, Oklahoma, USA the authorities have decided that the unorganised way feral cats are dealt with is not working and have passed an ordinance allowing the city manager to develop and pilot a TNR program with the involvement of volunteers. This is organised TNR with tax-payer backing and community involvement (and therefore commitment).
What was happening until now is that Animal Control would receive a complaint about a stray cat and trap him then transport the cat to the Halifax Humane Society where, if he was lucky, he’d be adopted out but most likely he’d be euthanized. The process works out at $85 dollars per cat.
And let’s not kid ourselves, solutions are always tied to money. When city commissioners and politicians make decisions on behalf of their citizens, a major factor is their impact on the tax payer.
It costs $55 per cat to trap-neuter-return says the co-founder of Concerned Citizens for Animal Welfare, Pat Mihalic. This is her volunteer group and they assist animal control in the capture and transportation of feral cats.
This partnership between volunteers who are concerned about cat welfare and the authorities is neat because it saves money and the volunteers see real progress in respect of cat welfare, plus they have the backing of the authorities rather than working in conflict with them.
Adding icing to cake is Petsmart Charities who have agreed to cover the cost of spaying and neutering 600 cats annually for two years.
The Halifax Humane Society want to reduce the number euthanized but as an open-door shelter the numbers force them to euthanize. Organised TNR as described will reduce intake numbers and reduce euthanasia accordingly allowing, in the long term, for every cat rescued to be adopted out to a new home – the goal of all shelters.