Baltimore has it right on cats

This week, a City Council committee is reviewing Baltimore’s landmark Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for community cats, sometimes called feral cats. These discussions offer the opportunity to review the success of Baltimore’s 10-year-old TNR program, which has served as a model for the nation.

TNR is a program in which community cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped (a universal sign to show they’ve been neutered and vaccinated), and returned to their outdoor homes. TNR is the only humane and effective approach for community cats. Studies have shown that TNR ends the cycle of breeding and stabilizes the population. Mating behaviors also cease, which makes life better for the cats and for the residents who live nearby.

As we have seen over the last decade, TNR is sound public policy. Fewer calls come in to animal control agencies, which leads to reduced shelter intake and far less killing. This also translates into considerable taxpayer savings. With TNR, we stop the endless, expensive cycle of impounding cats in shelters, where nearly 100 percent of community cats are killed because they are not adoptable. Animal control officers can instead focus on rescuing animals in need and finding adoptable animals a new home.

Increasingly, animal control officials in municipalities around the nation are abandoning the outdated approach of rounding up and killing cats. According to a Harris Interactive poll, more than 80 percent of Americans believe that it is more humane to leave a healthy cat outside, where she can thrive, rather than have her caught and be killed.

Thousands of people in towns and cities across America conduct TNR and stand by its success. Similarly, Baltimore is one of more than 650 communities that has adopted official TNR policies and ordinances, improving the lives of city residents and community cats.

I applaud the city, Mayor Catherine Pugh, and the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter for supporting this nationally recognized and respected program. I look forward to another 10 years of Baltimore officials leading the way with this smart, visionary animal control policy.

Becky Robinson, Bethesda

The writer is president and founder of Alley Cat Allies

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