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3. Trap Loan Procedures

Now that your trap depot is up and running, follow these important steps to make sure your trap loan goes smoothly, and to help you keep track of your traps.

Provide an Overview of TNR

When borrowers call or email to request a trap, this is a great time to make sure they know the steps involved when planning to Trap-Neuter-Return the cat(s) in their area. For example, it is very important to make appointments for spay/neuter before actually trapping a cat. Trapping can be easy and some people are already experienced, but you must make sure that everyone borrowing a trap knows how to use it safely. Here are a few ways you can help your trappers prepare:

  • Hold a monthly workshop on the basics of TNR, including the timeline, a demonstration on how to set and bait traps, and what to do once they’ve trapped the cat.
  • If you can’t teach your own class, direct potential trap borrowers to attend a workshop or training session with a local TNR group, or virtually attend one of Alley Cat Allies’ webinars.
  • Demonstrate how to use the trap to each person checking one out, covering the same information one-on-one as you would in a workshop.
  • Provide materials like our step-by-step Trap-Neuter-Return Guide, available in our Marketplace, to each trapper.
  • Direct trappers to our How to Conduct Trap-Neuter-Return online guide for helpful videos and detailed instructions.

Create a Trap Loan Form

We recommend having a trap loan form for borrowers to fill out. Include spaces for the borrower’s name and contact information, the date the traps were loaned, the date they are due back, the traps’ ID numbers, how much their deposit is, basic agreements about how the traps will be used (and not used), and a signature. This can be a good time to ask the borrowers to provide identification, which will allow you to confirm their name and address, and make sure you don’t loan traps to anyone who has previously broken the trap loan agreement.

Signing a trap loan form ensures that borrowers agree to the rules of your trap loan program and are aware of any consequences of breaking those rules, such as forfeiting their deposit. Your agreement should also serve as a release form, to protect you from any liability for any injury resulting from the trap. Keep one copy for yourself and give one to the borrower, and make sure to update your equipment tracking master list.

The trap loan form also ensures that both parties agree on how the trap will be used—solely for the purpose of Trap-Neuter-Return of community cats. It also clearly states the date when the traps will be returned, and the condition of the traps upon return. It’s important to clean and disinfect the traps between each use (see below for information on how to clean traps), so that new cats won’t be able to smell the previous cat and to keep the trap depot area clean. Either require borrowers to clean and disinfect each trap before returning it, or make sure to do it yourself between each use.

Read our trap loan form to see a sample and make sure you have all your bases covered.

TIP: The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region in Colorado recommends using very clear wording in your trap loan agreement that the trap is a loan and not personal property of the person borrowing it. Make sure that the staff loaning out traps emphasize this as well.

TIP: Ed Boks, Executive Director of Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, Ariz., says the shelter requires information on the colony manager responsible for caring for the cats to make sure they are properly trained. This also helps ensure that the people renting the traps are only using them for TNR.

Set a Return Due Date

It’s a good idea to set a due date for when borrowers are required to return the traps, so that other people don’t have to wait months to check them out. Have a conversation with the borrower to learn when their spay/neuter appointments are, so you can base your due date on the date of the appointment. The borrower will need time for the cat to recover before being returned to her outdoor home, and to clean and disinfect the trap. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least one week from the date of surgery before the trap is due.

Make sure to include the due date on your trap loan form, so there is no confusion about when the trap is expected back.

TIP: A tip from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region—If you ever run low on traps, try crosschecking your spreadsheet with when borrowers’ spay/neuter appointments are to see if there are any traps still out that may not actually be in use. If they’re past their due date, start making phone calls to get traps returned.

TIP: Use your camera phone to take photos of traps you’re loaning out and their numbers so you have an easy way to reference what you loaned and when. Delete photos when traps are returned.

Hold a Deposit

For most trap depots, there is no daily rental charge for borrowing traps (it’s free to borrow the traps), but it’s usually a good idea for trap depots to require a deposit to replace the trap if it is lost, stolen, or damaged. The easiest way to handle the deposit is to ask for a separate check for each trap. When the borrower returns the trap(s), you simply return the check(s).

Deposit amounts vary by organization and cost of the traps; they range from $20 to $75, and it’s up to you and your organization how much to hold for the deposit. Alley Cat Allies requires a $60 deposit per trap. Include the deposit amount per trap on the Trap Loan Form so there is no confusion.

Gulf Shore Animal League in Manatee County’s president Audrey Garrison says they’re careful not to loan out traps without receiving a deposit. “If someone is unable to provide a deposit, we generally assist them with the trapping so that we lose as few traps as possible,” she says.

Be Available for Follow-up Questions!

Sometimes, even with all your instruction ahead of time, borrowers may have a question once they leave with the traps. Make sure all borrowers know the best way to reach you if they have questions about the use of the trap, or to request to borrow the trap for a longer period of time.

TIP: Create a link on your website or Facebook page to Alley Cat Allies’ page on TNR and safe trapping guidelines.

Next Step: With trap loan procedures in place, the trap loan process should go smoothly! Read on to ensure that the trap return process is just as smooth. »