Some results seen in other areas
The Humane Society of Carroll County, which operates the county's animal control and shelter services, is aware of Metro Ferals operations and tries to help the group as much as it can, said Carolyn "Nicky" Ratliff, executive director of the shelter. She said the shelter has no written policy on TNR programs, but allows colonies to exist where they are well taken care of.
Ratliff said if the shelter receives a cat that has had its ear tipped - a sign that Metro Ferals has neutered or spayed it - it will contact the group and people who are known to take care of colonies in hopes of returning it safely.
She said the program does not work well everywhere.
"A TNR colony in an apartment complex? Probably not a great idea," she said. "If the people in the area don't like it, or they hate them, then I worry about what they are going to do to the cats."
Ratliff said she is rooting for the program. She said if cat issues can be solved by TNR programs rather than euthanasia, she is in full support.
"I think it would be terrific if it solves the problem - if people are happy," she said. "But somebody, in my opinion, needs to be responsible for the colony."
Ratliff noted the governments of Manchester and Hampstead are the two jurisdictions in the county that have embraced TNR. She said she hopes that other jurisdictions start to embrace TNR further as well.
"I [am] in great hopes that in Taneytown, Mount Airy, Westminster - they [say], 'Wow, if it works for them, maybe we'll do it,' " Ratliff said.
However, Ratliff said it is too early to judge how well the programs have worked in those jurisdictions.
Nationally, advocates for TNR programs say such program's popularity has increased over time, and there have been some positive results for jurisdictions and other entities that have implemented them.
In Fairfax County, Va., for instance, the animal shelter has reported that less feral cats are coming into the shelter since the program was first implemented and promoted in 2008, said Elizabeth Holtz, staff attorney for Alley Cat Allies, a group based in Bethesda that supports TNR programs. Since August 2013, the shelter has performed only a small amount of cat euthanizations for medical reasons, she said.
Holtz said she hopes that other shelters start to adopt a TNR program, instead of sticking with the status quo.
"It's this endless cycle of catch and kill," Holtz said. "We just have to look at history to see it has not worked. Animals control agencies have been trapping and killing for decades in the U.S., and it has brought us to where we are today."