Saving Feral Cats in Sparks

Once again, the issue and validity of Trap, Neuter, Return, Monitor programs in our community are on the front page of our civil discourse. Of course, in this case, I can assure you most of the discourse is far from civil and far from honest. In this column I recently laid out the facts of TNRM and urged each of you to visit www.nevadahumanesociety.org to view an exhaustive, referenced answer to questions related to this life-saving, population-reducing, and scientifically-proven animal welfare best practice. So I won’t do that again. Yet, the advocates of “catch and kill” sometimes make it seem as though this is a controversial practice; it is not. We in the animal welfare and management profession are united—as you can see from this letter composed by nationally-celebrated Best Friends Animal Society:

Trap-Neuter-Return: The proven method for managing community cats Nevada Humane Society CEO Kevin Ryan is exactly right when he warns of the risks associated with a proposed zoning change that would effectively prohibit the management of Sparks’ community cats by way of trap-neuter-return, or TNR (“Animal Files: Ban would make feral cat problem worse,” July 27). Through our partnership with PetSmart Charities, Inc.™ and various local municipalities, Best Friends Animal Society operates more large-scale community cat programs than any other organization in the country. As such, we are in a unique position to comment on the positive impact such programs have not only on the cats, but on animal shelters and the communities they serve. And the successes we’ve seen, both in our own programs and others, echo the findings of numerous research studies demonstrating both the effectiveness of TNR to stabilize and reduce the population of cats at a local, or “colony” level, and TNR’s broad public support. Sound policy requires sound science, and the science is quite clear: there are only two ways proven to reduce the population of community cats: intensive TNR efforts or intensive eradication efforts, such as those employed on small oceanic islands. Given the enormous expense and horrendous methods employed in successful eradication projects, this option is unlikely to attract much support. As a policy decision, then, TNR is the obvious choice. To consider anything else would, as Ryan notes, mean a return to the Dark Ages for Washoe County, when killing with no end in sight was standard operating procedure. As a pioneer in the No Kill movement, this community knows—and deserves—better. Peter J. Wolf Cat Initiatives Analyst Community Programs and Services Best Friends Animal Society  

It is not just Nevada Humane Society and Best Friends Animal Society who are united in this cause. National groups like the ASPCA and local, Washoe County animal organizations such as the SPCA of Northern Nevada, Pet Network Humane Society, CRCS and so many more are all in agreement that TNRM is the only solution to the problem of free roaming cats and any movement away from the program that has led to a 37% reduction in cat population is a grave and consequential mistake. Yet again, it’s not just animal organizations, it’s you. A Harris Interactive poll found that over 80% of Americans support TNRM rather than the alternatives. We want a compassionate and humane approach to feral cat management.

I write about this topic again because it is so very important. Just this past Thursday our community made another top 10 list—WalletHub named us one of the Top 10 “creature-friendly” cities. This is added to a long list of accolades we have received as a result of our innovative and proven animal care strategies. This is a nice recognition, but its more than that. This type of national accolade matters; it speaks to our quality of life. Almost 80 million American households have a pet—people look to live in pet-friendly communities.

TNRM is about effective population reduction, it’s about humaneness, it’s about public safety, it’s about compassion, it’s about quality of life, it’s about economic development, it’s a reflection of this community, it’s what we want. It’s what we need.

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