Working in an animal shelter that does not kill animals for population control is both, rewarding and challenging at the same time. One of the biggest challenge for the Allegany County Animal Shelter is the cat population in Allegany County. The cat population is not unique for this County, many other Communities are facing the same challenge.
In the last 30 years the Allegany County Animal Shelter killed about 40,000 cats with the result that there is no result. Killing as solution has yet failed again. 30 years later and 40,000 dead cats later we still hear and talk about the abandoned cats, the stray cats and the feral cats. Since killing the cats does not seem to be working we need to look at other solutions. To find other solutions also means to understand the issue. Why do we have so many abandoned, stray and feral cats? Who is responsible? Is it because of the older Lady next door, who is letting her cats out every day? Or is it because of the Veterinarians charging a unbelievable amount of money to spay/neuter a cat? Or is it because the Shelter is not killing fast enough stray and feral cats? No matter from which side we look at it, we will not be able to identify one single reason for the cat population. Everybody is contributing to it, the older Lady as much as the Veterinarian. We have to face the fact that it is a issue created by the society that only can be solved by the society. We only can solve the issue by working together, as a responsible grown up society.
So, what do we do? It is not just one single thing we need to do, it is a combination of things that need to be done. People need to be able to spay/neuter their cats at an affordable price. Currently local Veterinarians charge anywhere between $200 and $300 for spay/neuter which is beyond ridiculous. I have witnessed a Veterinarian neutering 50 cats in about 3 hours. Let’s assume a Veterinarian charges $30 per cat, that still leaves him with $1500 after 3 hours of work. Would that take anything away from is regular business? No, it would not because the cats he will spay & neuter would not be spayed & neutered under his current price tag. So, why can the Veterinarians of Allegany County not work together and setup a monthly spay & neuter clinic and charge, let’s say, $30 per cat?
Since we now solved this issue, let’s take a look at our other feral and stray feline friends. We already established earlier that killing our feline friends does not work as population control. Now it is time to look at TNR (Trap Neuter/Spay Release). Many other communities have successfully done it, the National Animal Control Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association supporting TNR as the best solution for cat population control. Many other national organizations like Best Friends and Alley Cat Allies are offering grants and workshops to the communities that are willing to build a TNR program. TNR does need the help of the community. Cats need to be trapped, a Veterinarian has to spay/neuter and vaccinate the cat, the cat has to be taken back and cat colonies need to be taken care of in order to keep the feral cats healthy. The caretaker also will make sure that the cats have enough food and shelter available which will keep them from roaming larger areas looking for food and shelter.
TNR will not bring instant results, it is a long term investment. The goal of TNR is to keep cats from populating in a humane way and with that reducing the number of cats in the community. Studies on cat colonies have shown that the cat population can be reduced with TNR by 60% after 5 years. After only 4 years of TNR the number of new born kittens was reduced by almost 100%.
We, as society, created the issue. We, as society, can solve it. Together.
If not now, when?
No Kill Advocat