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SPCA aims to control stray population

post #1 of 2
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TOWN OF ULSTER - The Ulster County SPCA has reached a milestone in its battle against puppies and kittens - the proliferation of homeless, unwanted ones, that is.

Last month, the non-profit agency neutered its 10,000th animal at its low-cost spay/neuter clinic off Brabrant Road, which started in 1999. The clinic offers a cheap solution for municipalities, animal rescue groups and individuals who want animals fixed but can't afford a visit to a veterinarian.

The program offers a sliding scale for the procedure. Individuals can have pet cats neutered for $35. Rescue groups are charged $10 for adoptable cats, but the procedure is offered free for their feral counterparts.

Municipalities can have dogs picked up by animal control neutered for $50. According to Christine French, the agency's director, the same procedure costs at least $100 in most veterinary offices. Every animal neutered at the clinic also gets a rabies shot free of charge.

Most of the clinic's patients are homeless or feral cats. In addition, every animal that enters the clinic is neutered before it is adopted out.

"Without the clinic, there is no way I could do what I do," said Susan Clarke of Cragsmoor, who runs a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats. Clarke makes weekly trips to the clinic, taking an average of four or five animals to be neutered. She said she has taken in more than 400 feral cats from the Accord/Ellenville area, and she knows of at least 200 more.

"Of course, by the time I get to all of them, there will be another crop," she said.

The clinic can neuter up to 40 cats per day and last year altered 2,300 animals. It can only take up to two dogs per day, however, because of space limitations.

The procedures are done by three veterinarians, Avery Smith, Liz Higgins and Laraine Calari, who are paid for their time. The homeless cat program takes in animals who get food from human caretakers, but who cannot be domesticated.

French said neutering does more than prevent the annoyance large colonies of feral, or wild, cats can cause humans. "Its the humane thing to do," she said. "Cats who are born feral have a life expectancy of about six months, and it's a pretty miserable life."

Operating the clinic represents a significant portion of the budget of the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, running about $40,000 per year. Half of the clinic's expenses are funded by grants, and the rest from donations. French said it is money well spent.

"It's really the most effective use of our resources," she said. "We have already seen a reduction in the dog population and we are waiting for the cats to catch up. We don't get bombarded with puppies the way we used to."

Comments to the article:

Name: Wayne Wood
Date: Feb, 07 2004
Maybe there wouldn't be so many feral cats to fix if the local SPCA would accept more animals from the commumity taxpayers. As it is now, a good many of these people let the animals go by any means that they can live with. This usually results in the cats breeding at will. Dogs are treated in the same manner. So why doesn't the SPCA stop the uncontrolled breeding before it starts? I think that the SPCA is doing too little, too late!

Name: sara whalen
Date: Feb, 06 2004
This is in reply to Rich Kurtz's uninformed post.

If feral cats are a 'nuisance' to you (and I don't understand how a sick and starving kitten could possibly bother you unless you go out of your way to look for them and 'catch a cold' while you are walking around) then the people who practice TNR are your BIGGEST allies. Please allow yourself to be educated - when a feral colony is neutered and fed by a caretaker it creates an environment that other ferals do NOT enter. If you kill all the cats instead you create a VACUUM into which more feral cats will move. A god source of information for you and others who are ignorant of the facts is the website for the organization called AlleyCatAllies - please read it and learn. Your own 'feelings' are important to you but do not do anything to solve the problem. Only educated and motivated animal lovers can make progress in curing pet overpopulation. It is generally however the ignorant people who let their unneutered animals outside to breed, get sick and be a 'nuisance' to people who are really responsible for creating the problem in the first place.

KUDOS to Chris French for her far sighted efforts to make a difference not only for the animals but for the huge community of animal lovers in Ulster County. For the first time in history that organization is accomplishing something wonderful!

Sara Whalen
Executive Director
Pets Alive Inc.

Name: Ralph Kosiba
Date: Feb, 06 2004
Bravo to the TNR program. It's not the cat's fault and they shouldn't be put down because of it. This program sounds like it works. I have great respect for all shelters that follow a non-kill philosophy. My two very cherished cats were both abandoned by some idiot. Thank God someone found them and brought them to a shelter where I was then able to adopt them. Kudo's to all who volunteer in these efforts.

Name: Susan Greene
Date: Feb, 06 2004
It's all well and good to say "the cats should be
put down once they are in a trap." But the fact is,
the people who are interested in working with 10,000
cats since 1999 are people who care about cats. The
people going out in the cold and catching them are
people who love cats. As a wildlife control business,
I used to received lots of calls from people who needed
help with feral cats. The cat lovers were willing to
pay vet fees, would monitor traps, etc. The people who wanted "cats gone" weren't interested in helping trap, or paying a dime--not even to pay a veterinarian for euthanasia if I captured their cats for free. Twelve years, and not ONE person who wanted "cats gone" would pay, while countless elderly women on Social Security have scraped up money to help pay to spay cats that had been dumped on them, so there would be no more kittens. In addition, I ask every person who thinks the SPCA should kill ferals, whether they donated money to their SPCA back in the days before TNR services were offered (and all ferals were killed). The answer is invariably "no." If the community doesn't support killing with funds, then how is killing supposed to be paid for? And when you are dealing with the number of cats that are really on the street, where is your workforce going to come from? Cat lovers, or people who want "cats gone?" Better sterilized cats, than nothing done at all. Congrats to the veterinarians, the SPCA, and all involved in this accomplishment. When it is repeated in every community, one day we will have far fewer feral cats and unwanted pets. (from Tioga County, NY)

Name: Ms. J Leone
Date: Feb, 06 2004
Bravo to all the humans who help with Trap-Neuter-Release programs. The three vets, even if they get paid for their time, are doing a true service. I've had vets refuse to see a feral cat, so those who do are my heros. In addition I know and use Dr. Calari and she is excellent. The volunteers are often misunderstood and slandered. If you still see a few feral cats in your neighborhood (they have a little bit of their ears missing), AND new unneutered cats aren't moving in, you have a TNR volunteer to thank. The key even for cat-haters is that TNR stabilizes the colony, keeping new colonies from forming. The villains are the humans who dumped domestic cats or let their cat have unwanted kittens. If you know someone with an unneutered pet you need to convince them that they need to take action.

Name: Rich Kurtz
Date: Feb, 06 2004
This program is nuts!! I shouldn't be catch, fix and release. It should be catch and put down. That would be the humane thing to do. French says-"Cats who are born feral have a life expectancy of about six months, and it's a pretty miserable life." If it's so miserable, take them out of there misery and take us out of ours! Feral cats are a nuisance. Catch them and get rid of them.


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post #2 of 2
Cool! I certainly posted my opinion on a few of the responses!
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