Corey Lawrence – Macon County Animal Control Officer, June McMahon – Founder/President Sumner Spay Neuter Alliance, Sara Felmlee – Program Director Sumner Spay Neuter Alliance, Debbie Gross – TNR program organizer/coordinator and Constable Tom Dallas – Animal Control Officer for City of Lafayette.
Any questions please call.
Cats. People love them and people hate them. And yet just about everyone like kittens. At least until they grow up. And here lies the source of the problem. EVERY kitten born contributes exponentially to the exploding cat population problem if it not spayed or neutered.
There are approximately 4000 feral or community cats in Macon County and approximately 800 within the corporate city limits of Lafayette alone.
OK, so what is a Feral or Community cat? For one thing, they are not pet cats. Pets cats are owned by someone and cared for by someone. Feral cats are cats that have either been born and lived wild all their lives or which have been abandoned and stray and reverted to a basic wild state. They do not tolerate human contact. Community cats are cats that belong to no one but which are occasionally fed and interacted with by one or more individuals. Both feral and community cats tend to organize loosely into colonies and take up residence in places where they can live and multiply, thereby continually adding to the cat population.
Check these facts:
• Feral cats have an average of 1.4 litters per year, with an average 3.5 live births in each litter. That equals 4.9 kittens per year, per female feral cat. Indeed, JUST ONE PAIR of breeding cats and their offspring can produce 420,000 kittens over a seven-year period.
• Of the approximately 146 million cats in the United States, about half are feral/unowned.
• Every day, 10,000 humans are born in the United States, while 70,000 kittens and puppies are born. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all of the animals, resulting in the euthanization of many of them.
• Each year, almost 9 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters in the U.S. because there are not enough homes. 70% of cats brought into shelters are euthanized.
• Using conventional animal control techniques, cats have a 0 to 25% chance of getting out of a shelter or pound alive.
• This equates to huge financial cost for taxpayers and citizens of counties and municipalities in terms of animal control time and euthanasia costs.
• Conventional control techniques do not control these outdoor feline populations are they reproduce much faster than they can be captured by animal control.
• Add to this that the Animal Control Departments of both Macon County and City of Lafayette DO NOT have any facilities for cats. We have no kennels or cages which allow us to properly house cats. So when cats do occasionally come into our facilities , IF they are not adopted very quickly they are most often euthanized at a cost of around $55 per animal.
This is why both Animal Control departments deal ONLY with those cats that are complained upon and or are causing specific public nuisances. And we do not accept Voluntary Surrenders or animals picked up by citizens as a rule. This leaves you the citizen or resident without any satisfactory system for true solution to the cat problem.
This is about to change. A group of citizens recently formed a Not for Profit organization called The Spay and Neuter Association of Macon County. This is a group of citizens who have an interest in seeing the feral/community cat populations brought under control in Macon County/City of Lafayette. They already have an $8000 grant to provide for spay/neuter of 266 Community and Feral cats in the area. This grant DOES NOT cover any pet cats. The grant actually covers the 37083 zip code in Macon County and for the zip code which includes the City of Westmoreland.
This group will administer and conduct a program which is recognized nationwide by government agencies and animal care groups alike. This program is called TNR (Trap Neuter Release). Under this program colonies of cats will be identified in Westmoreland, Lafayette and the rural areas of Macon County. Once identified, the cats in these colonies will be analyzed (sex, number, age, color, etc) and a trapping program devised. The group has expert, experienced trappers among their numbers and the grant has provided an initial 10 traps for use. Once trapped the cats will be transported to Sumner County Spay Neuter Alliance where they will be spayed or neutered, rabies vaccinated and vaccinated for other diseases and parasites, the left ear of each cat will be surgically notched for permanent identification as a trapped and treated animal. The cats will then be returned and released back to the area where they were originally trapped. These cats will then live out their normal life and never reproduce again.
This type of program is humane and effectively resolves most of the problems associated with feral cats.
• Most outdoor cats are in good health and have a food source.
• When given the alternative of fixing and returning a neighborhood cat as opposed to killing it at a shelter, most people will opt for TNR. No one really wants the killing, they just don’t know that there is an option at no cost to them.
• The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. An example is euthanizing cats for nuisance complaints and population control.
• Cats have a much better chance of survival in a neighborhood than they do getting out of a shelter alive.
• We have rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs and cats living outdoors. Cats are the only one of these being rounded up and being killed.
• TNR targets those cats that are most likely to cause concern or annoyance. Once a cat is spayed/neutered, most if not all of its annoying behavior will cease.
Corey Lawrence Macon County Animal Control and myself representing City of Lafayette Animal Control met with the startup group and their advisors last week. Attending the meeting also were Sara Felmlee the Program Director of the Sumner County Spay and Neuter Alliance, June McMahon, Founder and president of the Sumner Spay/Neuter Alliance, Dr. Lori Murray, founder and former veterinarian of the Macon County Veterinary Hospital, Debbie Gross group organizer/co-ordinator and 5 other local individuals with backgrounds diverse as a 12 year professional cat trapper, a 9 year manager/owner of local business, a local student who is pursuing a veterinary degree, a 25 year plus retired law enforcement officer and a retired truck driver of 12 years and professional dog trapper of 25 years. We will publish more information on the details of this group in coming weeks.
The long term goal of the Macon County Spay and Neuter Association is to use this grant money and conduct trapping operations in Westmoreland, Lafayette and surrounding Macon County to trap and spay/neuter/vaccinate/mark those cat populations and return them to their original locations. Long term goals also include efforts to work dog issue in a similar manner by working to obtain grants for spay/neuter and rabies, establishing animal food banks, foster homes for animals, adoption services….. all of which will help make animal control efforts in the city and county more effective.
1) Permanently reduce the number of free roaming cats
2) Reduce nuisance and behavior complaints related to cats
3) Provide an alternative more human and cost effective plan than catch and kill or adopt using TNR.
4) Create a more informed public mindset that will allow more people to assist these cats and control future problems. This will be done thru an aggressive public education program which will include public information distribution via newspaper, radio and television, internet via Facebook and programs where public speakers will visit local schools to introduce pet ownership and care concepts to children and young adults and finally adult education programs with civic groups, churches and other organizations.
5) Work with existing Animal Control departments as partners. They have knowledge of this program and knowledge of the communities in which they work. They will look for “ear tipped” during routine activities and leave these animals alone unless the animal is a specific problem. Animal Control will also strive to provide education to the public and assist the group with their activities wherever possible.
This will in all cases be done in co-operation of property owners and under consultation of Animal Control Officers of both Lafayette and Macon County.
This program ultimately serves to help the citizens of the area and improve Animal Control services by controlling the cat population up front freeing up time that we in Animal Control now spend on cat calls. We will still do our best to take care of specific nuisance cats when requested, but we will not be burdened with as many requests for services to take care of stray cats and abandoned/found kitten litters during the year.
From January 2013 to January 2014 the Lafayette Animal Control department handled approximately 30 calls related to cats. One of these related to a colony numbering over 25 cats. Over a period of 3 months, Animal Control expended over 80 hours trapping and processing these cats. Of the 25 cats trapped, 8 escaped due to inadequate handling facilities, 8 were adopted and 8 were euthanized. Look at the cost of that: approx. 400 dollars in euthanasia costs, 80 hours of time that Animal Control could have been working on other animal related problems. And still, 8 are back in the wild continuing to reproduce.
The short term goal of the Spay and Neuter Association of Macon County is to get 501.C status so that they can conduct fund raising efforts and continue this work even after the initial grant is expended. To do this they must file for the 501.C status and that will cost about 1000 dollars. They are calling for private donations to help cover this money.
If you have questions or want to help as volunteer with the Spay Neuter Association of Macon County or with donations:
Contact the Macon County Spay and Neuter Association by calling 615-688-7070. Look for a Facebook page in the near future. And you can get complete information by contacting either Corey Lawrence – Macon County Animal Control at 388-8956 or Tom Dallas – Lafayette Animal Control at 615-633-6687 or email AC1@nctc.com. Or on Facebook: Constable Tom Dallas.
For Spay/Neuter and Rabies services you may contact any of the local veterinarians (Macon County Veterinary Hospital, Evetts Animal Clinic or Fitzerald Animal Clinic) or the Sumner County Spay Neuter Alliance at 615-452-2233.