In an overwhelming show of support for Baltimore’s landmark Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, city officials, residents, and advocates hailed its success at a hearing on Tuesday and recommended that it continue without changes or modifications.

The Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee held the hearing to discuss Resolution 17-0042R, which required officials from the Health Department’s Office of Animal Control to speak about Baltimore’s TNR program.

About 60 people crowded into the hearing room, with an overwhelming majority in support of the TNR program that began 10 years ago. The program has become a model for the nation.

Sharon Miller, director of the city’s Office of Animal Control, testified that TNR benefits residents and community cats. She was joined by Jennifer Brause, the executive director of the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), which runs the TNR program, and its Community Cat Program Coordinator Grace Fellner.

Brause and Fellner presented statistics showing the positive impact of TNR since the program began a decade ago. Among the data:

  • Feline euthanasia at BARCS decreased by 73 percent.
  • The live release rate for cats (the number of animals who leave the shelter alive through adoption, return to owners, transfer to another facility, or the “return” part of TNR) rose from 60 percent to more than 90 percent.
  • Intake for adult cats declined by 9.6 percent, and for kittens under 6 months old, it fell by 54 percent.

Alley Cat Allies staff attended the hearing and called the dialogue between city officials and BARCS encouraging. We also appreciated that residents voiced their support for TNR at the meeting. Some shared their stories after seeing the benefits of TNR. In addition to those who testified, many people who were unable to attend the hearing submitted written testimony through our Action Center.

Other animal welfare groups that had representatives at the hearing included Community Cats Maryland, the Humane Society of the United States, Maryland SPCA, and ReLove Animals.

Alley Cat Allies is delighted that the city council now has a thorough understanding of the importance of the TNR program to Baltimore, and we’re optimistic that the city council will continue to support it.

It was 10 years ago that Baltimore enacted one of the country’s strongest and most effective ordinances on TNR and community cats. Alley Cat Allies worked with residents, humane organizations, and public officials to build citywide support for the program. Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, reaffirmed the success of this program in her September 25 letter to the editor in The Baltimore Sun.