TNR programs are fantastic, but the majority of adoptable animals entering shelters aren't feral. They are abandoned pets, and abandoned litters.
Low cost for low income spay/neuter programs are probably the best way to combat this. The reason for this is 1) Funding and 2) Reaching the source of the problem. New Hampshire is the pioneer and model in creating this type of program, which was started in 1993. They now boast the lowest state-wide euthanasia rate in the country.
Funding is a problem with implementing a wide-spread low cost or even TNR program. Who pays for it? Regardless of what we think the priority is on saving animals' lives, the budgets for states, counties and municipalities simply isn't going to foot the bill for these programs. They may subsidize them, but they won't all out pay for them.
Low cost/Low income targets the people who otherwise wouldn't get their animals spayed and neutered because they simply can't afford it. Trying to do a general public low cost S/N program means that every participant has to pay a higher co-pay, again putting S/N out of reach of the truly low income people. It has also been shown that the majority of the people who participate in general public low cost S/N programs would have gotten it done anyway, they just wanted to save money on it.
New Hampshire's program utilizes the already in place state benefit program to determine eligibility. When eligible, people only pay $10 co-pay for S/N, to include vaccinations and pre-op testing up to $35. (They also have other S/N programs, including S/N for shelter adopted animals, co-pay of $25-50; a financial assistance program where costs range from $35-$70; and "Solutions to Overpopulation of Pets (STOP)" a spay program for mother cats with a $25 refund off of regular vet rates after the surgery is complete.) These programs are funded by a nominal $2 increase on all pet licenses, which is put directly into the S/N fund.
By implementing these programs, New Hampshire saw a dramatic drop in intakes, thereby reducing the need to euthanize, and increasing the chances for the animals that were in the shelters for adoption. They also saw their bugetary needs drop well below the amount expended for the low cost S/N programs.
For more info on Statewide S/N programs, please go here: http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/html...ion.html#State
What we all need to push for is to take a pro-active stance on animal control. Stop the problem before they end up in the shelter, which means preventing unwanted births, and mainly from owned animals. Education has done a great deal so far and needs to continue, but the next step must be taken if we ever want to come close to a No Kill status nationwide. Because George is 100% right - we are no where near that point right now.