SIDNEY — On the heels of their successful fourth annual Walk to End Parvo, SCARF and the Shelby County Animal Shelter immediately turned to their ongoing Feral Cat TNR (trap-neuter-return) program.
TNR is a program through which free-roaming cats (not belonging to particular humans) are humanely trapped; sterilized and medically treated; and returned to the outdoor locations where they were found. Cats found suffering with terminal or untreatable illnesses or injuries are humanely euthanized. Shelby County’s program includes administering rabies vaccinations to all cats that are brought in.
The Shelby County Animal Shelter and SCARF, along with financial support from the city of Sidney, began a program addressing the issue of cat over-population in the city of Sidney at the beginning of this year. The TNR clinic is the third of four scheduled this year with plans for six clinics in 2017. Prior to Monday’s clinic 45 cats had been spayed or neutered in the initial two clinics.
On Saturday, volunteers picked up feral cat traps from the Shelby County Animal Shelter and located them at various pre-determined areas in Sidney.
On Monday, the volunteers and staff brought almost 30 cats to the Shelby County Fairgrounds that had been trapped over the weekend to be neutered. The Shelby County Animal Shelter has contracted with NOMAD Inc to conduct the clinics. The NOMAD clinic consists of a mobile pet surgery unit that provides services for cats only.
NOMADveterinarian Dr Laura Miller gives all of the cats a medical exam prior to surgery. During surgery, cats are spayed or neutered, given a rabies vaccine and have their ears tipped. The ears are tipped in order to provide identification for the animals being altered. Volunteers assist the NOMAD by preparing each animal for the vet, and observing them after their surgery for any medical issues. The following morning, cats are to be returned to their original neighborhood and released.
Miller acknowledged the program does not remove cats but it controls the population, and studies have shown that cats are less likely to fight or express bad behaviors once they have been spayed or neutered.
“Trap-Neuter-Return is a wonderful program,” said Miller. “These cats are comfortable and happiest going back to their colony. Once established the numbers in a feral cat colony will stay static with TNR.”
“We are so thankful for the collaboration between SCARF, the City of Sidney, and all of the volunteers that support this program with either their time or donations,” said Shelby County Dog Warden Kelli Ward.
“Traps being used are designed for this program and are not cheap costing approximately $70 a piece,” said Ward. “Many of the traps have been donated by residents in the community”.
“The Shelby County Animal Shelter always attempts to take in as many cats as possible at the shelter,” said Ward. “Unfortunately space is very limited so we are unable to handle more than 15 cats at any time depending on size. Other determining factors include cages numbers, health of cats currently at the facility, space, or ventilation requirements. Unfortunately, the shelter often must turn away cats due to the lack of space.”
The need for the TNR program has been needed in the city for several years.
“The community has been asking for this program for some time. Mayor (Mike) Barhorst and I recognized that something needs to be done,” said Commissioner Julie Ehemann. “We know this program will take time and will not solve all issues. We urge everyone to help us by ensuring that pets are spayed or neutered so they do not contribute to the problem.”
“The citizens I have talked to are grateful for the program,” said Councilman and volunteer Steve Wagner. “I have received only positive feedback to these efforts. I appreciate all of the efforts and the professionalism that I have encountered with SCARF and the Animal Shelter. I look forward to my continued participation.”
According to SPAY USA, one unspayed cat, her mate and all of their offspring producing two litters per year, with 2.8 surviving kittens would result in over 11,000 cats in 5 years.
TNR is endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) as “the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling free-roaming cat populations” and “the only proven humane and effective method to manage feral cat colonies.”