Trap-neuter-release program aims to fix feral cat problem

By Jim McCabe on August 20 at 7:43am

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A group in Morgan County is working to create a program where feral cats are captured and neutered before being released.

A meeting was held in the Jacksonville municipal building last night that included representatives of Morgan County Animal Control and various animal rescue and shelter groups in the area.

Katie Brunk, a volunteer with the Jacksonville-based D.O.G. PEN Rescue organization, has been working working with Animal Control to create the trap-alter-return pilot program. Brunk says volunteers are being sought out.

“First, we need to identify people who are already caretakers of feral cats, so if they’re feeding stray cats who aren’t socialized, they can register with us and we can get them enrolled in the program to have their cats spayed and neutered,” says Brunk.

“We’re also looking for volunteers to help transport cats to and from the surgery, volunteers who can help us actually trap the feral cats to take them to the surgeries, and volunteers to help us fundraise and raise awareness in the community about the program,” she adds.

Brunk says the goal of the program is to stabilize the cat population in Morgan County.

George Cox, an animal control officer, says he’s not aware of any feral cat colonies registered in the county at this time. It’s estimated that about half the cats picked up are not domesticated.

“There are a lot of cats brought in, period. It’s hard to determine one being feral versus socialized because of the setting that they’re in,” says Cox. “Everything is kind of scared and sometimes they all bite.”

Brunk says D.O.G. PEN rescues many of the cats at Animal Control that are not adopted that would otherwise be euthanized.

“The number is overwhelming, especially during kitten season, which is awful. Sometimes, there are situations where all the cages at animal control are filled.

“They have a very low euthanasia rate because they do work so well with rescues, but we have to decrease the number of those cats going into Animal Control, and if we can get them spayed and neutered and identified as part of a feral cat colony, then we will be able to get them back to the neighborhood where they were existing,” Brunk explains.

“They’re already spayed and neutered, so they’re not going to be as much of a nuisance with yowling and spraying and fighting that most people identify as problems with stray cats.”

Animal Control will help fund the trap-neuter-release initiative. More meetings are expected to be held as the program develops. If you want more information, Brunk says you can follow the D.O.G. PEN Rescue group on Facebook or email her at krbrunk@gmail.com.