Oh Dog! I am so excited! Today we’re profiling yet another TNR program that’s working to save the lives of kitties in Steelton, Pennsylvania!
Rumpy: Thanks so much for being my guest today. Tell us about your TNR program.
Steelton Cats: We provide municipalities with full-service geographically-targeted no-kill cat population control services using “Saving Money. Saving Lives. A Plan for Every Cat”. This ensures every cat has a place to go, none are killed and none go to our local high kill humane society.
Rumpy: That sounds ideal! How does your program work?
1. Partnerships – We work with the colony caretakers to trap at their feeding locations and get a population count and description of the cats to ensure we got the entire colony. We partner with local government. We work with high quality rescues to place adoptable kittens and cats that cannot go back out on the street. We work with a hospice care facility to ensure terminally ill cats have a place to live out their days in a safe environment.
2. Saving Lives = No kill – With our municipal contracts we ask that no cats go to the humane society. Instead, they call us. We do not kill any cats. 99% of them are fixed, tended to if sick or injured, vaccinated and put back. Being unfriendly no longer means a death sentence.
3. Full Service – Our initial municipality, Steelton, is a low income fixed income urban borough where many are elderly and many don’t drive. To ensure maximum participation, we deliver traps, we transport cats back to our building, we care for the cats in the days leading up to surgery, we provide the surgery and vaccinations, we provide the days of aftercare, we treat the sick and injured, we transport back and release. All Free.
4. Saving Money – Our contract with the municipality is much cheaper than our local humane society contract. In fact our first municipality, Steelton, was able to hire another full time police officer with the savings we generated. We are now working in 4 municipalities and have three more interested.
5. Sick and Injured – In addition to spay/neuter surgery, ear tipping, vaccinations for rabies, distemper, calici, rhino and chlamydia, we also treat every sick and injured cat, making him whole before he goes back. We’ve encountered open wounds, upper respiratory infections, broken bones, bad teeth, and ruptured eyes to name a few. Typical TNR programs provide the spay/neuter, but ask that the cat be taken elsewhere for these extra services.
6. Spa Week – We do what we call spa week – we trap for several days, we do surgery, we provide aftercare for several days, we release. At the end of the week, all the traps are collected and empty – none are sitting in someone’s garage, long forgotten; we sanitize the traps and start all over. Every cat has a place to go and all traps are accounted for at the end of every week.
7. Community Service – We partner with our county Adult Probation and Parole Office to use community service hours to fill in with our volunteer teams. We have met so many nice people and some have stayed on as permanent team members.
Rumpy: And how is your program working for your community?
Steelton Cats: By doing aggressive, geographically-targeted, full-service TNR, we ran out of cats! So we turned to our neighboring municipalities to “protect our borders”. We have been working the same program in those areas to keep our surgery center busy. We slot in the ones and twos from our previous areas, and the majority comes from our newer areas.
Rumpy: What does it cost to run your program?
Steelton Cats: We are as Maria says “Cardboard and Newspapers”! We operate on a shoestring budget, always managing to have just enough to get by – probably echoing the call of 95% of non-profits! Our two biggest expenses are paying the veterinarian for the surgeries and the extra medicine and extra care for the sick and injured cats. The municipalities help us with the spay/neuter surgery costs. We rely on the community for monetary donations for the extra medical care.
Rumpy: How has your community benefitted from this program?
Steelton Cats: In our 4 municipalities, NO cats are killed anymore. All have a chance to live out their lives. We are saving the local governments money, helping with balancing their ever-strained budgets, because our solution is less expensive. We are solving a community health problem by humanely and methodically reducing the outdoor cat population and vaccinating the cats against rabies.
Rumpy: You said you save the county money on Humane services. But since you only deal with feral/stray cats, there still is a need for animal control for dogs and for cats that are not stray. How are those services handled, and is it still costing your community less for all animal services?”
Steelton Cats: We handle all cat calls. Most calls are about stray cats. If someone dies and leaves a cat behind, that sort of thing, an indoor cat, we fix/vaccinate, SNAP test and they go to rescue for a new indoor home. We do not do dogs right now and yes, they contract with our humane society for dogs. We help by trying to reunite stray dogs with owners so they dont be charged for an intake. Dogs are next after we get to the entire county with cats. Dogs are harder to make no-kill program, although we do have some ideas are bantering about!
Rumpy: Oh Dog! Thanks for telling us all about your community program! I’m heartened that your community supports such an effort. May there come a day that all communities would be as supportive.
You can learn more about Steelton Cats at their website.