“I’m Barb Jones. And I do TNR.”

The words in the title were spoken when she stood up to deliver a speech. She has been described as a hero. She has chipped away at the feral cat problem in Colorado Springs for 40 years. She lives alone, happily, and can do what she wants. She likes to help feral cats live better lives. She is not a crazy cat lady. She is a very sane, sensible and intelligent woman who wants to do the right thing.

Barb Jones places a blanket over a cage containing a female feral cat to keep her calm
Barb Jones places a blanket over a cage containing a female feral cat to keep her calm. Photo: Clancey Bush of The Gazette (the source of this story – thanks)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Her admirers have stated that she is “the Mother Teresa of the feral cat world”. Or she’s been described as a “hero pushing against a ridiculous tide and winning”. Julie McIntyre said: “She just does this out of the kindness of her heart”. Julie McIntyre owns Summerland Gardens. She has a shop cat who was delivered to her by Jones 10 years ago. She told Jones 10 years ago that she didn’t want a shop cat but Jones gave her one anyway. It worked out great. McIntyre said that Jones is a saint.

I don’t think that Barb Jones wants to think about herself as a saint or a hero. I think she is too modest for that. She wants to do right by the feral cats of the Colorado Springs area where, she estimates, there are at least 250 known feral cat colonies. There is work to do.

It’s a team effort in operating TNR programs as Jones does. Various groups work together. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has the biggest TNR program in this area and it’s sanctioned by the cities of Colorado Springs and Pueblo. They work with Happy Cats Haven, as I understand it, who, in turn, work with Barb Jones.

Barb Jones says that she gets a lot of calls daily which she has to prioritise based on urgency. She says that she operates a triage system to pick out the urgent cases. She has crazy cat days which means that she is very busy sometimes. When you are that concerned and committed you are bound to be busy because you respond when there is a need.

It’s clear, though, that Barb Jones manages her time well. You have to do that if you are going to cope which she clearly does admirably. Sometimes she has to keep cats in her home as it’s the best option. It might, for example, be unsafe to put them back after, I presume, sterilisation and vaccination.

What keeps her going is saving lives, helping feral cats live better lives and doing the right thing. It seems to me that there are two types of people in the world: people like Barb Jones who do, indeed, do the right thing by responding positively and with determination in helping animals who need help and against that behaviour there are those who don’t give a damn or who like to shoot feral cats as a method of dealing with them.

Ear-tipping
Ear-tipping. Photo: various sources and believed to be in the public domain.

For the sake of clarity, Barb Jones operates TNR programs which is the trapping, neutering and vaccinating of feral cats who are returned to their original location. You can pick out TNRed cats in an area because they’ve been ear-tipped. This is the surgical removal of the tip of the left ear. It allows people to recognise a cat that has been through the TNR program at a distance. It helps to protect the cat and it sends a clear signal to people in the area that the feral cats that they are seeing is being managed humanely.

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