Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR): A Humane Solution to Feral Cat Overpopulation

Ed Boks and feral cats
The formula to end the killing of feral cats works

Feral cat overpopulation poses a significant challenge in various regions, including Hawaii, where colonies of free-ranging cats have become a contentious issue. The practice of Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) emerges as a humane and viable solution to address this problem. Despite protests and criticism, TNR stands out as an effective approach that not only addresses feline overpopulation but also addresses the concerns raised by ecologists and wildlife advocates.

The Cat Conundrum in Hawaii

Hawaii, with its warm climate and history of non-native species introductions, faces a unique challenge regarding feral cat overpopulation. The abundance of free-ranging cats, descended from or abandoned by pet owners, has led to ecological issues, such as the predation of local birds and the spread of diseases.

The Deadly Impact of Free-Ranging Cats

Free-ranging cats in Hawaii have been identified as a significant threat to native wildlife. They are skilled predators, capable of killing a substantial number of animals annually. The impact on endangered bird species, such as the ua’u and a’o, is particularly devastating, contributing to Hawaii’s unfortunate title as the “extinction capital of the world.”

Moreover, the spread of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by stray cats, poses a threat to wildlife and humans alike. The parasite has been linked to the deaths of endangered Hawaiian monk seals and various bird species, highlighting the urgent need for intervention.

Countering TNR Criticisms

Critics argue that TNR is an ineffective solution and that other approaches, including euthanasia, should be considered. However, the evidence supporting TNR as an effective population control method cannot be dismissed. Critics, including PETA, claim that TNR fails to address the root cause and can even encourage abandonment. Contrary to these claims, TNR has demonstrated success in reducing feral cat populations when implemented consistently.

Christopher Lepczyk, an ecologist at Auburn University, argues for a multifaceted approach, including adoption, enclosed sanctuaries, and euthanasia. While these methods may have merit in specific situations, TNR remains an essential component, especially considering its humane nature.

The Human Dimension of the Cat Crisis

One critical aspect often overlooked is the human responsibility behind the cat problem. Dumping pet cats on the streets is identified as the primary cause of feral cat colonies. To truly address the issue, efforts should be directed towards educating pet owners about responsible ownership and providing accessible spaying and neutering services.

Christopher Lepczyk suggests that making it easier for licensed vets from other states to practice in Hawaii could alleviate the cost barrier to spaying and neutering. Additionally, a fundamental shift in people’s understanding of pet ownership as a privilege rather than a right is crucial to tackling the core issue.

Conclusion

The Trap/Neuter/Return approach emerges as a humane and effective solution to the challenges associated with feral cat overpopulation. While critics may point to alternative methods, the evidence supporting TNR’s success in reducing cat populations, combined with addressing the root cause of abandonment, highlights its importance in finding a balance between animal welfare and ecological preservation. It is essential to recognize the interconnectedness of human actions, responsible pet ownership, and effective population control measures to achieve a harmonious coexistence between cats and native wildlife.

Harmonizing Forces for Humane Communities: The Vital Role of Collaboration

Introduction

In the quest for more humane communities, a powerful synergy exists when municipal animal control agencies, dedicated rescue groups, and compassionate foundations join forces.  Today, I will explain the profound impact of collaborative efforts among these entities. Together, they create a formidable alliance that can transform our neighborhoods into havens of compassion and care for animals in need.

Municipal Animal Control: The Frontline Guardians

Municipal animal control agencies play a pivotal role in our communities. They are the first responders to reports of animal cruelty, stray animals, and public safety concerns. With a mandate to uphold animal welfare laws, these agencies ensure the safety of both animals and the public.

Rescue Groups: The Compassionate Saviors

Rescue groups are the heart and soul of animal welfare. Comprised of passionate volunteers and animal advocates, they step in to provide care, shelter, and a second chance to animals facing homelessness, neglect, or abuse. These groups are known for their tireless efforts to find loving homes for animals, especially those in municipal shelters.

Foundations: The Pillars of Support

Animal welfare foundations play a crucial role by providing financial and logistical support to both municipal animal control agencies and rescue groups. Their funding can be a lifeline, allowing organizations to expand their reach, invest in better facilities, and implement life-saving programs.

The Power of Collaboration

When these three forces come together, a transformational synergy occurs:

  1. Effective Animal Rescue: Rescue groups often rely on municipal shelters as a source of animals in need. By collaborating, they can save more lives, providing animals with better chances for adoption and avoiding overcrowding in shelters.
  2. Enhanced Resources: Foundations can bolster the capabilities of both municipal animal control and rescue groups, enabling them to offer more comprehensive services, such as spay/neuter programs, medical care, and educational initiatives.
  3. Community Outreach: Municipal animal control agencies, rescue groups, and foundations can work together to educate the community about responsible pet ownership, the benefits of adoption, and the importance of reporting animal cruelty.
  4. Legislative Advocacy: Collaboration can strengthen efforts to advocate for better animal welfare legislation and policies, leading to more humane communities.
  5. Shared Expertise: Each entity brings unique expertise to the table. Municipal agencies can provide regulatory knowledge, rescue groups offer hands-on animal care experience, and foundations provide financial acumen. This diversity of expertise ensures a well-rounded approach to animal welfare.

Case in Point: The Success Stories

Across the country, there are numerous success stories of collaboration between municipal animal control, rescue groups, and foundations:

  • Reduced Euthanasia Rates: By working together to increase adoptions, spaying/neutering, and community education, many communities have achieved remarkable reductions in euthanasia rates.
  • Improved Facilities: Foundations have supported the construction and renovation of shelters, making them more comfortable and accommodating for animals and staff.
  • Emergency Response: During natural disasters or crises, these collaborative efforts enable swift and coordinated responses to rescue and care for animals in distress.

Conclusion

In the pursuit of more humane communities, collaboration is not just beneficial; it’s imperative. The combined efforts of municipal animal control, rescue groups, and foundations form a formidable alliance capable of effecting positive change on a large scale. Together, they can save lives, promote responsible pet ownership, and pave the way for a brighter, more compassionate future for both animals and humans. In the end, it is through collaboration that we can achieve our shared vision of a world where animals are treated with the respect and care they so rightly deserve.

Call to Action:

Ed Boks Consulting
Ed Boks Consulting: Proven No-Kill Solutions for Communities and Organizations

If you’re inspired by the potential of collaboration to create more humane communities, then it’s time to take action.

Consider enlisting the expertise of Ed Boks, a seasoned professional with a proven track record in facilitating effective collaborations. Ed’s wealth of experience, deep knowledge of animal welfare issues, and passion for positive change make him an ideal partner in your journey towards a more compassionate society.

To explore how Ed Boks can help your organization or community foster meaningful collaborations and make a tangible impact on animal welfare, don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, we can transform our communities into safe havens where animals receive the care and compassion they deserve.

Contact Ed Boks here.

Ed Boks Reflects on the Current State of Animal Welfare: A Journey Towards Compassion

Introduction

Ed Boks provides proven no-kill solutions to communities and shelters

Hello, dear friends and fellow animal advocates.  I’ve spent my life working towards the betterment of animal welfare.  Today I want to share my thoughts on the current state of animal welfare, the progress we’ve made, and the challenges that still lie ahead.

A Lifetime of Dedication

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous organizations and communities, all with the shared goal of improving the lives of our furry, feathered, and scaly friends. From my early days in animal control to leading large municipal animal services agencies, my journey has been one of learning, adapting, and growing.

Progress in Animal Welfare

It’s heartening to see how far we’ve come in the realm of animal welfare. Communities worldwide have made significant strides in improving the lives of animals. Here are some highlights of our progress:

  1. Spay/Neuter Programs: We’ve witnessed the tremendous impact of spay/neuter programs in reducing the number of homeless animals and euthanasia rates.
  2. Adoption and Rescue: Animal shelters have become centers of compassion and hope, with dedicated staff and volunteers working tirelessly to find loving homes for animals in need.
  3. Education and Awareness: Through public outreach and education, we’ve raised awareness about responsible pet ownership, animal cruelty prevention, and the importance of adopting from shelters.
  4. Legislative Changes: Laws have evolved to protect animals, with stricter regulations against animal cruelty, puppy mills, and exotic pet ownership.
  5. Humane Alternatives: We’ve seen the rise of innovative approaches to animal welfare, such as trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs for feral cats and no-kill shelter initiatives.

Challenges on the Horizon

While we’ve made significant strides, there are still challenges ahead:

  1. Overpopulation: Despite our best efforts, overpopulation remains a concern in many areas. Stray and feral animal populations continue to strain resources.
  2. Animal Cruelty: Cases of animal cruelty persist, requiring continued vigilance and enforcement of animal protection laws.
  3. Wildlife Conservation: As human activity encroaches on natural habitats, wildlife conservation becomes increasingly vital. We must protect not only domestic animals but also our wild counterparts.
  4. Education: We must continue educating the public about the importance of adopting, spaying/neutering, and responsible pet ownership.
  5. Global Issues: Animal welfare is not confined to borders. We need to address international issues like the illegal wildlife trade and factory farming on a global scale.

A Message of Hope

Despite the challenges, my hope for the future of animal welfare burns brightly. Our collective efforts have shown that change is possible, and compassion is an unstoppable force. Together, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of animals.

As we move forward, let us remember that every act of kindness towards animals matters, whether it’s adopting a shelter pet, supporting local rescue organizations, or advocating for stronger animal protection laws. Together, we can create a world where animals are treated with the respect and care they deserve.

Conclusion

In reflecting on the current state of animal welfare, I’m reminded of the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Our journey towards a more compassionate world for animals is a testament to our moral progress. Let’s continue this journey with unwavering dedication, for the sake of the animals who rely on us for their well-being and happiness.

If I can help your organization or community, let me know at: Contact Ed Boks

Operation FELIX: Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Albert EinsteinInsanity, according to Albert Einstein, is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Many communities address their feral cat problem over and over again with two basic methodologies ­- only to be disappointed by the consequences of their efforts.

Feral cats are cats who have reverted to a wild state – born from tame cats that owners abandon or allow to run loose. These cats mate with other free-roaming cats, and their offspring, raised without human compassion, are wild, or feral. They grow up and breed with other feral and free-roaming cats and the cat population increases exponentially. Feral cats are considered a public nuisance by some and a public health concern by others. They needn’t be either.

The two methodologies employed by most communities are Do Nothing and Eradication. Decades of applying these methodologies has proven they don’t work – and there are very real biological reasons why.

It is easy to understand why doing nothing has little impact on the problem, but it is not as easy to understand why eradication does not work.

Feral cats typically live in colonies of 6 to 20 cats. When individuals try to catch cats for extermination, this heightens the biological stress of the colony, triggering a survival mechanism that causes the cats to over-breed and over-produce. Consequently, instead of birthing one litter per year with two or three kittens, a stressed female will produce two or three litters with 6 to 9 kittens each.

Even in the unlikely event that a person could catch and remove all the feral cats in a neighborhood, a phenomenon known as “the vacuum effect” would result. The removed colony had kept surrounding colonies at bay, but once removed, all deterrents evaporate and the surrounding cats enter the new territory to over-breed. The vacated neighborhood is quickly overrun with feral cats fighting for mates, caterwauling, and spraying for territory. Extermination only exacerbates the problem and actually produces worse results than doing nothing at all.

However, there is a third methodology that is increasingly practiced in communities across the United States and around the world with amazing results. It is called Trap/Neuter/Return, or TNR.

With TNR, all the feral cats in a neighborhood are trapped, sterilized, and returned to the area where they originated – under the care of a colony manager. The colony manager is a trained volunteer in the neighborhood willing to feed, water, and care for the colony.

Ed Boks and feral cats
Feral cats are descended from domestic cats but are born and live without human contact. Trap/Neuter/Return is the only effective – and humane – method of controlling the feral cat population.

TNR prevents the vacuum effect. Altered cats display none of the troubling behaviors of intact cats. Feral cats provide free rodent abatement, a service many neighborhoods unknowingly rely on. Since feral cats only live three to five years, the problem literally solves itself through attrition, provided TNR is implemented community-wide.

TNR also solves public nuisance complaints. There is an adage that says “you can’t herd cats.” In fact, you can herd neutered cats because they tend to hang around the food bowl. No longer having the urge to breed and prey, they follow the food bowl wherever the colony manager takes it. Feral cats can be trained to congregate in areas out of the way of the public.

TNR is a non-lethal, humane and cost-effective solution. Understanding these facts, municipal animal shelters ought to  enact a moratorium on accepting feral cats until a comprehensive community-wide feral cat program can be initiated.

TNR empowers citizens to solve this troublesome problem once and for all. Feral cats are trapped, neutered, vaccinated, health-checked by a veterinarian and returned to their neighborhood where their population is stabilized and reduced through attrition.

If you would like more information on TNR or if you need help to develop this program in your community, please contact me.

Pit Bulls Are Not Monsters

Jim Pennucci/Flickr

They have big hearts, clownish grins, and wildly wagging tails, but pit bulls do pose tough challenges to the humane community. In 2018, nearly half of U.S. pit bulls were homeless.

Many people wrongfully demonize pit bulls as an inherently dangerous breed. Others overlook challenges specific to the breed in their efforts to defend people’s rights to own them. These opposing views often lead to a vitriolic debate that winds up at City Hall. Continue reading “Pit Bulls Are Not Monsters”

Applying the No-Kill Ethic by Ed Boks

More than a policy and statistical objective, “no-kill” is a principle, an ethic, and once applied the practical consequences begin to fall into place. The principle is that animal shelters should apply the same criteria for deciding an animal’s fate that a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because of a lack of room or resources to care for them. Continue reading “Applying the No-Kill Ethic by Ed Boks”

Business-Savvy Landlords Allow Pets: Cities Should Make it the Default

Imagine being responsible for the life or death of 55,000 dogs and cats every year. As the General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Animal Services Department, the desperate need of these animals weighed on my mind every day.  I was determined to end pet homelessness and the practice of killing and disposing of our society’s surplus companion animals.

Today, most cities and towns across the nation share this noble and ambitious goal. Achieving this requires robust community participation, and our cities desperately need the support of an overlooked constituencylandlords. Continue reading “Business-Savvy Landlords Allow Pets: Cities Should Make it the Default”

The 3 Deadly Sins: Cruelty, Neglect and Hoarding by Ed Boks

How to deal with sin.

In Judeo/Christian literature the word “sin” originates from the idea of “missing the mark”.   Our understanding of missing the mark has been explained by theologians through the ages as resulting from sins of commission and sins of omission.

While pondering this idea, I wondered how the concept of sin, or  “missing the mark”, might apply to our responsibility for the environment and the animals who inhabit it.  It occurred to me that there are three deadly sins we commit when we fail in our responsibility for animals: cruelty, neglect, and hoarding. Continue reading “The 3 Deadly Sins: Cruelty, Neglect and Hoarding by Ed Boks”

FIV-positive cats can live long, healthy lives by Ed Boks

Ed’s 15 year old FIV cat, Oliver

In the quest to achieve No-Kill (which I define as applying the same criteria a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply to deciding a shelter animal’s fate), we must learn to overcome the many widespread myths regarding shelter animals.

The fact is some shelter animals have issues. Equally true is the fact that these issues are seldom the animal’s fault and they can almost always be resolved. Knowingly adopting an animal with special needs is one of the noblest acts you will ever perform; you are truly saving a life. Continue reading “FIV-positive cats can live long, healthy lives by Ed Boks”

Kapparot: 9th Circuit argument Tuesday

What is kapparot?

The 13th-century scholar Rabbi Solomon ben Abraham Aderet considered kapparot a “heathen superstition”.

Kapparot or kaparos, meaning “atonements,” is a custom in which a chicken or money may be used.  Kapparot using chickens is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

The ritual begins with selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job 33:23-24 being recited.  Then a rooster (for a man) or a hen (for a woman) is held above the person’s head and swung in a circle three times, while the following is spoken: “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” The chicken is then slaughtered and may or may not be given to the poor for food. Continue reading “Kapparot: 9th Circuit argument Tuesday”