Communal cats granted second chance
by Brooke Borba | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 28, 2014 | 1588 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pictured are local kittens rescued from a Stanislaus County park by members of the Feral Freedom project. These kittens will be available for adoption at PetSmart from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1. on Sisk Road in Modesto.
Pictured are local kittens rescued from a Stanislaus County park by members of the Feral Freedom project. These kittens will be available for adoption at PetSmart from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1. on Sisk Road in Modesto.
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In an effort to partner with the public and to illustrate a cause for animal welfare, three organizations are working in tandem to promote the Stanislaus County Feral Freedom project, which will spay and neuter all cats before releasing them back to their native environments.

The three organizations, Stanislaus County Animal Services Agency (SASA), the Humane Society of Stanislaus County (HSSC) and Alley Cat Allies (ACA), have backed the Feral Freedom project in order to educate the public on caring for feral cat problems using a method known as “Trap-Neuter-Release,” or TNR.

The basis of the TNR program is to spay or neuter as many cats as possible before releasing them back into their original neighborhoods. As a result, the program keeps community cats from overcrowding local shelters while controlling the rise of feral populations. Volunteers from the HSSC visit the SASA shelter three times a week to keep cats from sporadically reproducing, while finding homes for hundreds of friendly felines.

Together, SASA and HSSC have been developing the Feral Freedom project, which fit the criteria for a grant from Alley Cat Allies called, “Five for the Future.”

Following the application and screening process, Stanislaus County was awarded a grant of $5,000 to continue and promote the program, along with a year of support from ACA. Feral Freedom was also voted as the No. 2 top program in the nation by “Five for the Future.”

According to Laurie Daily-Johnston, president of Humane Society of Stanislaus County and volunteer for Feral Freedom project, the funding will be used to pay veterinarians to spay/neuter cats and cover the cost of vaccinations.

Before the Feral Freedom project began their initiative June 1, 2013, Daily-Johnston said cats were euthanized frequently in Stanislaus County, which caused a number of concerns for many animal enthusiasts.

“Cats are the number one euthanized animal nationwide,” said Daily-Johnston. “People tend to take strays into the shelter, even when they are healthy or adoptable. Shelters have limited space and many cats are unable to find a home or space within the short time they are there.

In the first six months of the Feral Freedom project, 1,262 cats that would have otherwise been euthanized were released back into their native environment under the shelter guidelines.

“By taking the cats to be spayed, neutered and vaccinated, we reduce the nuisance factor within the neighborhoods and have found plenty of homes for many adoptable cats,” said Daily-Johnston.

To promote the cause, free educational seminars will be held at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at Harvest Hall, 3800 Cornucopia Way in Modesto. There will be refreshments and door prizes, as well as an opportunity to learn and network with people who care deeply about the roaming cats in their neighborhoods.

Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or brooke@pattersonirrigator.com.

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