Friends of Animals Gives $50,000 to Feral Cat Initiative

Friends of Animals Gives $50,000 to Feral Cat Initiative

Record contribution will support humane “Trap-Neuter-Return” of feral cats and the City of San Antonio’s “no-kill” by 2012 goal.

Friends of Animals (FoA), an internationally recognized animal advocacy group, will present the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition with a $50,000 grant on February 13, 2008, to humanely reduce the breeding of the city’s feral cat population.

The San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that educates the public and promotes a program of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for abandoned and feral cat populations. “We are thrilled to have Friends of Animals join us in our effort to reduce San Antonio’s feral cat population,” said Jenny Burgess, president of the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition. “As a leading advocate of low-cost spaying and neutering for both cats and dogs, Friends of Animals has a proven record of success and we welcome their interest in our community.”

The grant is the largest contribution ever received by a San Antonio organization specifically targeted for sterilization of feral cats. “Abandonment of unaltered cats is a problem caused by humans, and should be solved by humans using a humane and effective methodology,” says Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “TNR effectively reduces, and can eventually eliminate, feral cat populations, offering a viable alternative to shelter killings.”

It is estimated that more than 165,000 abandoned and feral cats are living (and breeding) in San Antonio. Feral cats are the offspring of abandoned domestic cats, who very quickly adapt to a life outdoors. The cats group together in colonies ranging in size from 3 to 25 (or more) cats where reproduction runs rampant. With little or no human contact, the cats develop a fear of humans, making it difficult to manage and tend to the cats. TNR is an initiative that traps, sterilizes and vaccinates homeless domestic cats before returning them to their original location. FoA and the Feral Cat Coalition say they will reach 1,000 of San Antonio’s feral cats through this grant.

“In San Antonio, we can cut back the population substantially with a thousand (1,000) surgeries,” Feral says. “An effort of this size can trigger a large reduction in the number of animals brought to the city’s pound (Animal Control Services) to be killed.”

The entire grant will be used to accelerate the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition’s TNR program, which encourages local residents to report abandoned and feral cats to the coalition. The cats will be trapped and transported to the Gladys Harborth Animal Resource Center for spaying/neutering and immunizations. During the surgery, one of the cat’s ears will be tipped, which identifies it as sterile and vaccinated. Then the cat is returned to its colony. The cost for this process is $50 per cat. The City of San Antonio spends anywhere from $75 to $125 per animal to house and destroy.

For more than 50 years, FOA has operated the leading coast-to-coast cat and dog neutering initiative in the United States. Together with a network of 700 veterinarians across the country, the organization provides low-cost spay/neuter procedures and has altered over 2.5 million cats to date.

Priscilla Feral learned of San Antonio’s feral cat problem and the city’s “no-kill” goal through her frequent visits to Primarily Primates, an animal sanctuary in San Antonio. Friends of Animals took over management of the sanctuary last May, and has used more than $1 million of the organization’s resources to update and improve the sanctuary.

“Friends of Animals strongly opposes lethal methods of animal control,” said Feral. “Through TNR, I believe we will see a dramatic change in San Antonio’s feral cat population. Today, we are starting an aggressive campaign to support a responsible and ethical vision of what a no-kill city is. We applaud Mayor Hardberger for his forward-thinking goal, and are proud to be part of the initiative by implementing TNR and other spay-neuter surgeries.”

Friends of Animals is a non-profit, international animal advocacy organization that works to cultivate a respectful view of nonhuman animals, free-living and domestic. Friends of Animals was founded in 1957 with a goal to free animals from cruelty and institutionalized exploitation around the world. The projects and services provided by Friends of Animals are entirely supported by membership contributions, bequests, and grants.

The Gladys Harborth Animal Resource Center is a coalition of the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services, the Animal Defense League of Texas, the Humane Society/SPCA of Bexar County and the Veterinary Medical Association of Bexar County working together to contribute to reducing the feral cat population by providing free and low-cost spay-neuter services.

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