After many hours of compiling facts and figures, filling out countless forms and applications and waiting months for a reply, the 501(c)3 was up and running. We became one of the first TNR groups in our area and Trap, Neuter and Return took on a whole new meaning for us. Not only were we still doing TNR, but we expanded our services to provide vet care and rehab for sick and injured ferals before returning them back to their colonies if their condition permits. We promote the advantages of TNR thru community education and awareness, offer hands on guidance for new volunteers and host TNR workshops for individuals who want to become involved and TNR feral/free roaming cats in their area. We chose to focus mainly on helping elderly and disabled individuals who would like to carry out the TNR process but cannot do it themselves. We work closely with several Rescue Groups who help find homes for friendly strays and adoptable kittens thru their adoption programs and we are continuously involved in many community events.
Utilizing the free county spay/neuter clinic is one way we are able to continue to do TNR and we are constantly applying for grant monies, hold fundraising events and rely on the generosity of individual donations so that we can continue to use the available low cost spay/neuter clinics in our area. We are always looking for better and more productive ways to help our community with TNR and believe the best way is with more community involvement.
TNR actually is a proven way of controlling the community cat overpopulation and one of our colonies is a purrfect example. After an elderly person passed away, we took over caring for their colony of 29 feral cats. Over the past six years, and neutering any new cats that moved in, thru uncontrollable circumstances and natural attrition, the numbers have reduced down to 12 healthy and content feral cats who are enjoying their lives in their own comfortable environment and who are such joys to visit with every day. Just imagine the possibilities if more people got involved to become part of the solution because TNR actually works.
I started doing Trap, Neuter and Return back in 2009 and now, in 2017, with the help of our TNR Organization, over 3000 cats have been spayed in neutered in two different states….all because of a compassionate decision to make lives better for a few feral street cats.
It seems that dealing with the first few litters of kittens and getting them off the street and adopted can sometimes happen rather quickly and easily, but then, without warning, it stops! No one is in need of a kitten and your friends avoid you because you never ask ‘how are you’ anymore…it’s now become ‘do you want a kitten…pleeease?’ So in desperation, you realize that you have to end the reproduction cycle where it begins and that is at the source. It is obvious that finding homes for kittens do not accomplish anything at all, other than create more kittens and more work and frustration for you. As always, your goal has been to make their lives better…So what do you do?....Well you TNR them, of course!
…and that’s how it began….
Photo by Travis Datema
Doing TNR in a new State meant having to start from scratch, research what avenues were available and then decide how to begin. It also meant having to curb your disappointment when finding out that there were a lot less free spay/neuter clinics available than what you were accustomed to and yet thousands of more community cats roaming the streets. Fortunately, dealing with the only available free county clinic and its hard to schedule appointments had its advantages and eventually led to meeting other TNR volunteers who, like me, were willing to take on the task of helping the community cats.
After many months and many discussions, a few dedicated volunteers gathered and decided that the biggest impact we could have with doing TNR in this overpopulated feral cat area was to expand and try to utilize the available low cost spay/neuter clinics in the county, but that would take a lot of work, not only with TNR but for fundraising as well.
The best and most effective thing to do would be to start a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. This would enable us to do fundraising and apply for much needed grant money. Not wanting to become another Rescue Group, we chose to stay focused on what we originally started out doing and that was Trap, Neuter and Return of feral and free roaming cats.....yet another chapter is about to begin in wanting to better the lives of community cats.
This is how it begins
and this is how it ends.
Trap, Neuter and Return has become the most humane and effective way of gaining control of the feral/free roaming cat overpopulation problem. Cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, eartipped and returned to their colony, where caretakers continue to make their lives better. Trapping and removing feral cats from a location will not work because eventually new, unsterilized cats will move back into that area and the whole process will begin again.
This all started while we were living in New York, where doing TNR became a regular thing. If you see a feral cat, you TNR it….it was the rule of thumb. You learn the feeding times and habits, trap at 5am if you have to or 11pm at night, it didn’t matter. It all depended on location and feeding schedule and availability of easily booked TNR spay/neuter appointments and of course, it was always to better the lives of the street cats. Unfortunately, at that time and not knowing what the future held, I always thought that when we retired, we would spend a lot of quality time in our new home in the Sunshine State. That thought apparently, was the understatement of the year, and after moving to Florida and realizing that ‘every season is kitten season’ TNR became more than a regular thing, it became almost a way of life.
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