Tag Archives: TNR

Feral Cat Rescue: The Big Job

feral cat in trap for TNR programAs I mentioned in previous posts, I am endeavoring to rescue a group of cats that have developed a colony on my friend’s property in Tuscarawas County, OH.

First, the kittens in the colony were taken to the Tuscarawas County Humane Society cat shelter, where they are receiving treatment for eye infections and upper respiratory infections. Two females were well enough for surgery immediately, and they have already been spayed. The 3 remaining males will be neutered when they are are a bit healthier. All will be placed for adoption when they are ready.

Second, we began the trapping process for the adult cats this past Tuesday. I successfully trapped 7 cats (!) and transported them to One is One of a Kind Pets in Fairlawn, OH for  spay/neutering. It was a 60 mile trip with 7 angry cats, but they were basically calm. My truck still smells like a zoo, though…

All 7 were spayed/neutered yesterday. We discovered that one is very tame and friendly. The clinic staff fell in love with him, and we have decided to put him up for adoption when he recovers from his surgery and an upper respiratory infection. YAY! Mr. Orange Stripey is going to get a furrever home with a loving family!!!

The rest of the cats will be returned to my friend’s property, where she will continue to feed and care for them and the rest of the colony.

Some people question the purpose of TNR. Why return wild cats? Why go to the trouble of catching and spaying a semi-wild animal?

There are a number of reasons, about which you can read in depth on the Alley Cat Allies website. Here is my summary:

  1. Cats that have not been neutered continue to mate and reproduce, leading to an overwhelming overpopulation of unwanted animals. There are also numerous behavior problems associated with the mating process that become a nuisance to humans. TNR stops the overpopulation and it eliminates the nuisance behaviors that annoy humans.
  2. Cats are territorial animals. They ward off interlopers to their colonies, and they do not attract other cats when they are neutered. Colonies of cats that are neutered control their own populations by their natural instincts. No new cats arrive to the colony through reproduction or wandering, so the population does not grow.
  3. Neutered cats tend to have fewer health concerns and they tend to live longer, quality lives in a managed colony. They pose negligible risks to public health according to research.

If you are interested in engaging in TNR activities, that is AWESOME! Please familiarize yourself with the process before you start. It is not an activity that you should attempt without guidance. Read Alley Cat Allies’ TNR Guide or other resources that provide technical guidance, and consult with experienced TNR rescuers. Develop a method for fund raising to allay costs. That is what I have done.

The next trapping of cats in the colony will take place next week. Stay tuned!

Kitten Rescue Complete. Now for the big job…

The kittens about whom I wrote the other day are now adjusting to their new temporary home at the Tuscarawas County Humane Society cat shelter! I am deeply grateful for the generosity of Megan, Shelter Director, and the rest of the kitty crew for taking in these special little critters.

In the coming days, they will get cleaned up, have their eyes tended to, and be assessed for health concerns. As you can see in the photo, the one with Siamese markings has major eye issues – her eyes are totally crusted together so that she cannot see. Some are coughing and sneezing too. That is not unusual. Megan expressed optimism about their recovery and potential adoption possibilities.

kitten rescueThere are 5 kittens in all. One was a little squirrely in my first capture attempt, but she made it to the shelter on the second try.

There are many fabulous cats at the shelter. If you are interested in adopting these kittens or other cats, check out their page of adoptable cats.

The trapping process with the adult feral cats begins next Tuesday. A friend from Peace for Pets is lending me some traps, and I will take as many as I can trap up to One is One of a Kind Pets in Fairlawn, OH for the spay/neuter. We have a warm place for their post op recovery and then they will go back to their habitat.

The process will be continued on other dates until we feel certain that all the cats have been vetted.

What an adventure!

BZTAT

Canton’s Effort to Develop a Trap-Neuter-Return Program

In recent weeks, numerous friends have brought to my attention concerns about the way feral cats are treated in my community. The city of Canton, OH has one of the most draconian animal control policies around, and many friends have asked me to get involved in the process of making change.

Okey stray cat
"Okey" Artwork by BZTAT

“Just think, had someone called Animal Control on Okey, she would never have become the star that she is,” one friend posted on my Facebook wall.

A friend from California sent me this message: “Vicki, this is going on right in your own backyard – isn’t there something you can do?”

How could I not get involved?

Here is the situation.

The city has a contract with an individual to perform Animal Control Officer duties. This individual reportedly takes complaints from the community regarding nuisance animals, including feral cats and assorted wildlife (skunks, raccoons, etc.) and he removes them from the location of the complaint. Wildlife apparently are relocated and released back into the wild where they will be less of a nuisance. Feral cats are taken to the Humane Society and euthanized. A handful of kittens and adoptable cats are rehabbed and placed for adoption, but unsocialized cats are deemed “ill” and destroyed.

Aside from the ineffective and inhumane  method of dealing with the animal control problem, there are also complaints  about inappropriate and inhumane treatment of animals by the individual in the role of Animal Control Officer. There is a personnel issue here – complaints from the community that the officer is doing his job in an inhumane manner – in addition to the problematic policy in place.

Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends Animal Society, ASPCA, Found Animals Foundation, and every other major animal welfare organization in the United States advocate for TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) as the most humane and the most effective means of controlling feral cat problems. Neutering and providing basic vet care to feral cats typically reduces the nuisance behaviors that cause problems, and returning a neutered cat to it’s previous location leads to a reduction of non-neutered cats entering the area. Progressive cities are instituting TNR programs and seeing great benefit.

With all of this in mind, I accompanied my friends to the City Council meeting on Monday, February 6, 2012. Ten other advocates and I spoke at the meeting to implore our City Council to consider: 1) discontinuing the current contract, and 2) developing a TNR program for the city.

Surprisingly, we encountered interested and open minds on the Council. They continued the current contract for a shortened period of time (90 days), however, they also agreed to work with advocates to develop alternatives to the current method of animal control.

Although I am concerned that the city contracted with an individual who has active complaints of animal maltreatment from the community against him, I did receive personal assurances from 4 council persons that the complaints would be investigated immediately.

I will keep you posted on the progress of the effort in this space. What follows are the remarks that I shared in the Public Speaks portion of the City Council meeting on February 6, 2012.

My name is Vicki Boatright. I speak to you as a counselor, as an advocate for children and as an advocate for animals. I also speak to you as an artist who has personally contributed to the redevelopment of Downtown Canton with 2 murals depicting the bond that exists between animals and human beings. I am currently working on a third public art project along the same theme with funds provided to me by my community.

In my 20 year career as as a counselor with children, I saw clearly that there is a link between the maltreatment of animals and violence towards children. Considerable clinical research backs up my own observations. When animals are treated poorly, children are often treated poorly as well.

As a counselor, I worked with parents, teachers and other child advocates to help children develop empathy and wise methods of problem solving. My objection to the renewal of a contract for very inhumane and ineffective feral cat control practice follows that trajectory of my purposes.

I believe that we must set an example for our children in our actions and in our public policies.

Trap-neuter-release has been proven to be the most effective, efficient and humane method of managing feral cat problems. Trap and euthanize programs have been proven to be ineffective, inefficient and inhumane. We should not even be having this conversation.

We often talk of attracting young professionals to Canton as a place to make their home. With the documented rise of pet ownership among young professionals, progressive cities are working to become more animal friendly communities. What is Canton doing? Killing cats. As a result of this contract renewal issue, pet writers across the country have already begun to black-list Canton as a very pet-unfriendly community. Yes, we are on their radar. I first heard of it from a writer in California.

This issue is not simply about whether or not to appease some bleeding heart animal rights activists. This issue is about how we as a community demonstrate the empathy and the wise problem-solving that we desire our children to embrace. It is about the economics of making this city a place where people want to live. I urge you to stop this ineffective and cruel practice of killing cats today, and show our children what empathy and wise problem solving really means. Thank you.