Walton County to begin a county-wide TNR program for cats

Program is a collaboration between Walton County Animal Control, the Humane Society of Walton County and Best Friends Animal Society

At the Meet and Greet in Monroe recently for the newly formed Humane Society of Walton County, it was announced that Walton County will be conducting a 12-month pilot feral cat TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, this is a collaboration between Walton County Animal Control, HSWC and Best Friends Animal Society.

HSWC animal shelter consultant Carrie Ducote announced the program, thanking all the Walton County officials who had made it possible.

“So I have a really big announcement to make tonight that I am so excited to be able to share with you. This is something that the community has shared with us that they are really hoping that we are going to be able to take care of. Before I get into the details I have to thank some of the people who helped make it all happen, Ducote said, going on to name Jessica Krueger of Best Friends Animal Society, Sean Morris of Walton County Animal Shelter, John Ward Walton County Manager and David Thompson Walton County Board of Commissioners Chairman. “Without all of those people we wouldn’t have been able to make this announcement.”

Ducote said at the end of the 12-month period, HSWC and BFAS would get together with Walton County officials to discuss finding ways to sustain the program if it proves successful. In the meantime, they will need help from the community to ensure its success. Traps will have to be put out and monitored and cats will have to be taken to get the surgery and then returned to their original environment. There are people in the community who do this already and the financial subsidy for surgery and vaccinations will help.

During this pilot program in Walton County, WCAC will refer calls about healthy outdoor cats to HSWC who will manage these calls and mitigate nuisance complaints. They will loan out traps and the caregivers can bring the cats directly to the surgical provider. BFAS has provided funding for 500 surgeries during the pilot program. This will free up WCAC to deal more with the enforcement side of animal control and prosecution of animal cruelty cases.

TNR helps stop the never ending breeding cycle of feral cats, thereby improving their lives and preventing expansion of the colonies. It also cuts down on the large euthanasia rates at animal control facilities, providing a life-saving solution to feral community cats. The cats also get at least one occasion in their lives to see a veterinarian and get vaccinated.

According to Alley Cat Allies, “Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane and effective approach for stray and feral cats. Now in practice for decades in the US after being proven in Europe, scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.”

Alley Cat Allies reports that TNR is successfully practiced in hundreds of communities in the US. Cats are “humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are returned to their home colony outdoors. Kittens and cats who are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes.”

You can read more about the science behind TNR and how it works at this link on Alley Cat Allies.

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