Wednesday, February 20, 2013
About 40 cat lovers came together Saturday to hear an impassioned plea to organize and push the trap-neuter-return program to control the problem of free-roaming cats, commonly called feral cats.
“We need to get visible,” said Karen J. McGranahan, president of Bikini Beach Cat Rescue, which organized the two hour event at the Surfside Beach Public Library. “We know that change can start with one person.”
She cited nationwide statistics that showed the TNR program works to cut down not only on the number of cats roaming community streets, but also the shelter population, thus saving taxpayers’ money.
“It also cuts down on complaints if there are fewer animals roaming the communities,” she said. If you take animals into a shelter, other strays will take their places in the colonies, she noted.
Bikini Beach has been promoting low-cost spay/neuter clinics along the Grand Strand, but McGranahan says that’s only a start.
“We need to control the colonies of free-roaming cats,” she said, “and the way to do that is by spaying and neutering the animals, and then returning them to the communities from which they were taken.”
“These animals are not adoptable,” she said. “So taking them to a shelter means they will be euthanized, but until then, they are contributing to overcrowding at shelters.
“We are totally full,” said Shannon Prouty, founder of All 4 Paws, a no-kill shelter in Pawleys Island, noting that her facility’s status makes it impossible to take in other animals, which increases pressure on Georgetown County’s shelters.
Kelly Bonome, operations manager for the Horry County Animal Care Center in Conway, said the Horry County Council is aware of the problem, as evidenced by its endorsement of the trap-neuter-return program.
“The one thing they didn’t do was authorize funds to pay for the program,” she said.
Her shelter did receive a PetSmart grant for a targeted TNR program in Conway.
“The ZIP Code targeted in the grant has the highest number of free-roaming cats per human population in the county,” Bonome said, noting that while the grant has been awarded, the money has not yet been received.
That hasn’t stopped her or her staff from speaking to government and community groups.
“We know that the TNR program works,” Bonome said.
“Now it’s time to spread the word to others.”
By Anita Crone
For The Times