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Humane Society in need of more help with cat trapping program

The Trap, Neuter, and Release program is designed to reduce the escalating population of local stray and feral cats


by: JASON CHANEY - Humane Society of the Ochocos staff and volunteers pose with some cats that are available for adoption. Shelter manager Amber Smith (LEFT) is holding Froggy, Kim Pedersen is displaying Doree, and Joseph Jaso shows off Diane.

When it comes to local animal control issues, dogs have typically received the most attention.

Crook County’s animal control ordinance primarily addresses dog licensing, kennels and enforcement for barking complaints.

However, the Humane Society of the Ochocos has begun ramping up an effort to control the community’s escalating cat population.

“This is a huge problem in Crook County — huge,” said Amber Smith, shelter manager for the Humane Society. “There are thousands of cats in Crook County. Every year, just here in the shelter, we get hundreds of kittens.”

The Trap, Neuter, and Release program is not new to the community. Smith noted that it has been facilitated during the past few years by SNIP (Spay Neuter Investment Project) and the Crooked Tails Veterinary Clinic.

As the name suggests, feral and homeless cats in the community are trapped, then taken to a veterinarian to get spayed or neutered, and then, in most cases, returned to the location they were found.

“We just decided to take it a step further,” Smith said of the Humane Society effort. “We are going around recruiting volunteers. We need people to help with trapping. We need people to help with documentation and record keeping — to go around and monitor and keep record on the animals after they have been trapped, and make sure that no more animals are coming into the community that haven’t been trapped. If so, we can trap those animals as well.”

Humane Society board member Rebecca Ott added that people can volunteer by providing foster homes for some of the cats.

“We provide the supplies (to care for the cats) for them,” she said.

For those interested in trapping, Smith said the process is pretty simple.

“A lot of times, if there is not already a feeding station or something to lure the cats in, we might start feeding them initially,” she said. “You just try to draw them all in and get them used to eating in a certain location. Then, we will pull that food for a couple days, and set traps with really good, fishy bait in them. Those cats will go right in and the trap is set and we can pick them up and take them right down to the veterinarian.”

Of the cats captured, the Humane Society will try to adopt out the ones they can. They also ask people who are looking for a barn cat to take some of the feral felines. Most of the animals, however, are released in the same place they were trapped.

“If the situation is to where they are not going to survive in the place where we trapped them because there are too many, there are not enough resources, or people are poisoning them, we’ll then take them in,” Smith said. “We try really hard not to do that because those cats are really unhappy inside.”

Over time, the hope is that the number of kittens born will decline and that other cats will have less desire to come to the community to find food and procreate.

“We are trying to be proactive in getting the numbers down,” Ott concluded.



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