In 2016, Aiken County passed a resolution to implement a return-to-field program at the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Community cat diversion programs (or TNR — trap/neuter/return-to-field) like the county’s program have been hugely successful all over the country.
TNR programs are a humane way to reduce overpopulation of homeless cats in the community and public animal shelters like the county shelter. Here’s how it works: citizens trap a feral cat living in their neighborhood
(FOTAS provides the traps, if necessary) and bring the cat to the shelter or to a veterinarian designated by the shelter. The cat is neutered and vaccinated at no cost to the citizen, who later returns the cat to the
neighborhood. Thus, with help from the local community, the overpopulation of feral cats is reduced. It’s a win-win situation.
Why does it work? Because cat colonies that have been sterilized and cannot reproduce do not grow, and since outdoor cats do not live more than two to three years, the cat colonies eventually disappear.
The majority of cats received at the county shelter are outdoor cats, so the TNR program reduces the shelter’s intake of cats and reduces the feline euthanasia rate.
In 2016, the year in which the county’s TNR program was approved, the shelter had to euthanize 75% of the cats. One year later, in 2017, the shelter’s euthanasia rate for cats had dropped by two-thirds to 21%. And so far in the first nine months of this year, only 6% of the cats at the shelter had to be euthanized.
The county’s TNR program is working! Thousands of cats have been saved in fewer than three years;
FOTAS works with the shelter to provide free TNR services to Aiken County residents. In addition, FOTAS has purchased scores of traps to lend to citizens who wish to trap and neuter their community cats and return them to their original colonies.
There are so many people who have contributed to the success of the TNR program:
• The Aiken County Council and Administration for their continued support for the County’s TNR program.
• The shelter staff, Dr. Lisa Levy, and Dr. Mike Wells who work so diligently in-house to alter, vaccinate and ear-tip the thousands of community cats received at the shelter (over 1,100 cats in 2017 alone were saved instead of euthanized).
• Our veterinarian partners—Veterinary Services, Aiken Animal Hospital, Aiken Veterinary Clinic, Silver Bluff Animal Hospital—who discount their services to support the TNR program.
• Aiken County Animal Control officers who respond to citizen requests for assistance with the feral cats in their neighborhood.
• FOTAS volunteers Paula Neuroth and Carl Miller who coordinate and assist in facilitating the TNR program.
• Our donors who make it possible for FOTAS to supplement the county’s program and provide additional funding for community TNR cats surgeries.
• And of course, our community who cares enough to support this humane and highly effective program.
There is still so much to do. The shelter is currently receiving hundreds of homeless kittens. But working together, we can wipe out the county’s feral cat overpopulation and unnecessary euthanasia of cats.
For more information, please call the shelter 803-642 1537 or FOTAS spay/neuter hotline 803-507-6315.
Their lives are in our hands.
— By Jennifer Miller, President of FOTAS
By the Numbers
From Nov. 1 to Nov. 28, the County Shelter received 344 strays and surrendered pets.
Pets of the Week