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Animal shelter gets grant to help address feral cats

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha/Charleston Animal Shelter has been awarded a $5,000 grant to help address the county's feral cat problem.

Alley Cat Allies, a national advocacy group dedicated to reducing the number of cats put to sleep at animal shelters, recently picked the shelter as one of five facilities around the country to get the grant. Alley Cat Allies promotes Trap-Neuter-Return programs that capture wild cats, spay or neuter them and return them to the environment, where their numbers decline by attrition.

"We have a huge cat problem," animal shelter director Chelsea Staley said Tuesday.

She said the animal shelter gets about 20 feral cats a week, all of which are practically non-adoptable.

Staley said Alley Cat Allies got word of the animal shelter's plight after Charleston City Council proposed an ordinance limiting the number of cats residents can own, and requiring that free-roaming or feral cats be picked up and taken to the animal shelter.

Staley said a new animal shelter board that took over during the summer wants to cut down the number of cats euthanized at the shelter by trying to increase adoptions, send cats to foster programs or trap, neuter and release. "We think that TNR is the solution [to the feral cat problem]," she said. "But it's not something the shelter can do alone."

Staley said the animal shelter took in more than 300 cats in October, adopted 155 and euthanized 60. Some of the remaining cats will be euthanized soon, and cats continued to come in in November.

Alley Cat Allies, based in Bethesda, Md., will have dedicated staff members on hand to help the Kanawha/Charleston Animal Shelter set up a trap-neuter-release program. "The Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association is hard at work to implement lifesaving programs and we hope this [grant] program will help move them further along the path," said Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies founder and president.

Animal shelter officials are opposed to Charleston's proposed cat ordinance, which would round up feral cats and dump them at the animal shelter where most would be euthanized without a neuter and release program. Charleston City Council recently sent the proposed legislation to the Rules and Ordinance Committee, where it was tabled to consider revisions.

City officials are now considering whether a trap-neuter-release program should be permitted within city limits.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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