A new partnership is working to spay, neuter and vaccinate stray cats in Anne Arundel County with the goal of improving their quality of life and reducing the number of homeless animals that are euthanized each year.
The Anne Arundel Community Cat Coalition follows a Trap-Neuter-Return model, said Bob Rude, executive director of Rude Ranch Animal Rescue and an organizer of the coalition.
Under the model, animal care workers partner with the community to capture stray cats; bring them in to get neutered, vaccinated for rabies and checked for other health issues; and then return them to where they were living.
The cats also have their ears "tipped" in the process, a pain-free procedure that removes the tip of the ear to indicate they have been neutered.
The goal is to halt reproduction in communities of stray cats, reducing the number of homeless animals and lifting some of the burden from animal shelters.
Many of the stray and homeless cats living in the county are lost or abandoned pets and their offspring that were never spayed or neutered, Rude said.
Often, the cats are fed by people living in the community but are never neutered, so the population of stray cats continues to grow.
"By spaying and neutering these cats before they have more kittens, we will stop the influx of unwanted and homeless animals," Rude said in a statement.
The coalition recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the county to launch a pilot project in Hillsmere Shores.
About 80 people attended an informational meeting on the project Saturday at The Key School, Rude said.
The goal is to bring animal welfare groups and the county together to tackle the problem, he said.
The pilot project is funded by Rude Ranch Animal Rescue and Alley Cat Allies.
The coalition is headed by the Spay Spa and Neuter Nook, a spay and neuter clinic in Davidsonville and an off-shoot of Rude Ranch Animal Rescue.
Rude said he also is pushing to get the county to change its code as it relates to strays.
As it stands, when a person finds a stray cat, the county will often move to euthanize the animal if it is determined to be feral, Rude said.
About 1,100 cats were euthanized in the county last year, excluding owner-requested euthanasia, he said.
Rude wants to see the county add an option to the code for people who don't want the animal they bring in to be killed. He'd like to have a group like Anne Arundel Community Cat Coalition come into the community and neuter the cats and help address the problem.
Those interested in having an animal spayed or neutered or who want more information can call the Spay Spa and Neuter Nook at 443-607-6496 or visit www.spayspa.org.