Pima County to save feral cats - Tucson News Now

County to save feral cats

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Feral cats can't be socialized with humans so they can't be adopted out. Feral cats can't be socialized with humans so they can't be adopted out.
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Animal workers put down hundreds of feral cats every year.

But now Pima county leaders want to try something else that would keep them alive.

They call it TSR - Trap them, Sterilize them, Return them to the place they were found.

By saving the cats, the county feels it can actually reduce the overpopulation.

Feral cats can't be socialized with humans so they can't be adopted out.

In the past, that was a death sentence.

However, now feral cats may have a new life.

Just three years ago, the county was euthanizing 15,000 dogs and cats, which outraged the Tucson community.

Now that's been cut to about 7,000, but the county has established a goal to save as many animals as possible. 

The save rate has gone from 49% to better than 64%. In recent months that has gone up to 74%.

By saving the feral cats, the rate will be fast approaching the standard for a no kill shelter of 90%.

But it's not just about making the numbers look good.

The intent is to manage the cat colonies.

Most feral cats which come into Pima Animal Care are trapped by pest control operations, although the county will occasionally trap a few.

Under the new program, which is still awaiting grant funding, the trapped cat will be sterilized and then returned to the place where it was trapped.

It's "where they thrive and survive just fine," said Kim Janes, the Pima Animal Care Center Director.

But by controlling the cats, the county can also control the population.

"This way the numbers will eventually be reduced," he said.

The hope is, by sterilizing the mother cat, it "will prevent those six or seven twice a year litters that's coming into the community," Janes said.

It's the continuation of a policy taxpayers have told the county they are willing to pay for.

"The community understands we are in this together and it's a community situation as opposed to just dumping pets in a place to have them euthanized," he said.

The cost of the program has been estimated and it's likely will not be measured in dollars and cents.

Janes says the county wants to move away from a place that just shelters pets to one that acts more like a treatment facility which cares for pets medically.

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