Trap, neuter, release works if given a chance
I have been a caregiver for feral cats, and I am ready to tear my hair out as supposedly intelligent people once again demonize ferals.
They are the victims rather than the problem. They never asked to be born and some people don't even know what a feral is.
The editorial of Jan. 11 stated a feral is a tame cat that is abandoned and has gone wild. That's a stray. These cats can be turned back around pretty easily with a little love. A feral is a wild animal that has never known a human except in a negative way.
Trap, neuter, release, demonized by shelter director Colleen Macuk, certainly does work, as any spay/neuter program works. It is the first step in solving the "cat" problem. The fact that TNR is used effectively all over the country doesn't seem to make a dent in the local anti-TNR attitude.
The newspaper article reported that the shelter gets as many as 50 trapped cats a day, making it unsafe for the staff to determine who is feral (always killed) and who is not. If the cat hissed, it was put down. Why, in the name of common sense, is the shelter allowing that many cats to come in in one day?
People who are "nuisance" trappers need to be accountable. If they are trying to trap a "nuisance cat" in their neighborhood they should have to post notices to warn people of their intentions. In addition, they should have to call the shelter to make an appointment to bring the cat or cats in.
The shelter in turn should make appointments for no more cats than they can safely handle and properly assess in one day. Given a reasonable "time out," a domestic cat will meow and respond to kind advances. Ferals don't make a sound. If they have a tipped ear they belong to a cared-for colony and will never be returned to the caregiver.
It's a given that some people won't bother to make an appointment. They will dump the "nuisance cat" somewhere to starve or worse. They're too sneaky to ever be caught, so let's hope there's an especially hot spot in hell for them.
Every week SNYP (Spay/Neuter Your Pet) loans equipment and gives financial help to homeowners who are doing TNR on their own property. These kind people are part of the solution. Conversely, people who can't keep their cats are leaving them at our stations, rather than taking responsibility themselves. We re-home them if possible but I know of one caregiver who simply took home a cat that was declawed and only had three feet.
There is a segment of the population including the Jackson County shelter that is ignorant, apathetic or just plain mean — and that is the problem.
Gina Myers lives in Jacksonville.