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DAWG starts trap, neuter, release program for cats

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
The Denison Animal Welfare Group recently started a new program where it will trap, neuter and release community cats back as a part of humane population control efforts.

A new program aimed at controlling the population of stray cats is coming to Denison.

The Denison Animal Welfare Group plans to begin trapping, neutering and releasing stray and feral cats in Denison this week as part of long-term population control efforts.

“I think as people are seeing DAWG help people find homes, they are directing more of their community cats in,” DAWG President Stephanie Phillips said. “However, it doesn’t stop the source of the problem.

They may bring kittens in, but there is still an unspayed female out there that is producing many cats in a single year.“

Phillips said DAWG has recently received an uptick in calls regarding stray cats, with downtown Denison as a focus area. However, she said she believes the problem is throughout the community.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of complaints from people downtown about that cat problem,” she said, noting that some people have been feeding them. “We noticed at the same time that we were full of cats at the shelter.”

In some cases, the cats were proving to be a nuisance. In others, they were proving to be a danger to themselves.

“I don’t see that many injured dogs, but I am seeing a lot of cats that are being run over,” Phillips said. “So, it is a safety issue for the cats as well.”

The term community cat has been used to describe cats, including feral cats, that do not have a home and live outside within the community.

The ASPCA recently released the results of a study that found that trapping, neutering and returning these animals is both an effective and humane way to address the problem.

“Sadly, many communities still opt to do nothing to control populations of community cats or use outdated, ineffective methods such as sporadic trapping and removal,” said Margaret Slater, senior director of research at the ASPCA, and co-author of the study. “This research confirms that high-intensity TNR (trap, nueter, release) is the most effective, humane way to stabilize a population of community cats and, over time, reduce them.”

In some cases, Phillips said DAWG has been able to find homes for these animals. In other cases, Phillips said she was able to find places in the community, including areas that are in need of mouser cats.

Last week, DAWG borrowed several cages from the city and placed them around downtown. This first effort resulted in four cats that were captured and neutered.

Phillips said she is hoping to raise about $5,000 toward TNR efforts. The first four cats cost about $290 to neuter, de-worm and give shots.

DAWG is also adopting out cats from its shelter for $30 currently due to the high number it is sheltering.

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.