She wants to save more lives.
That’s why Elaine Spencer traveled all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Dallas, Texas, for Alley Cat Allies’ first ever Every Kitty, Every City® TEXAS conference.
Elaine is the grants and IT specialist for T-Town TNR, a Tulsa-based Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) nonprofit. The all-volunteer organization’s hard work has already saved more than 3,200 cats and counting, but Elaine and her team are determined to do more. Alley Cat Allies is working with them to change Tulsa’s laws to officially protect community cats.
Every Kitty, Every City TEXAS was designed for those like Elaine, who have the heart and drive to save cats and want to make an impact. She and more than 100 advocates from across the nation gathered in the grand ballroom of the Statler Hotel in July as the keynote address given by Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson kicked off the event.
“We want to help you speak up for cats, just as you’re already prepared to go out to care for and help them every day,” Becky told the crowd. “We want you to be prepared to protect them and advocate for them.”
Becky spoke about understanding cats and their place in our society, and why more and more municipalities and animal control agencies are adopting nonlethal methods of control. She cited the national survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Alley Cat Allies, which found that 89 percent of Americans want humane sterilization programs for cats rather than killing them. “Our officials need to update our laws and policies to reflect those values,” she said.
Her words inspired Elaine and so many others.
“Becky’s presentation is going to make [changing our ordinances] so much easier,” she said. “I feel so charged and ready to tackle that.”
Texas was a perfect venue to bring cat advocates together to listen to and learn from each other, because locals have accomplished so much with Alley Cat Allies’ support. Fort Bend County Animal Services, for example, went from killing hundreds of cats to saving more than a thousand after Alley Cat Allies helped them establish a TNR program last year.
The shelter’s leaders were featured prominently at Every Kitty, Every City TEXAS to talk about the success of the program and how to replicate it.
“We weren’t euthanizing cats before. We were killing them,” Rene Vasquez, director of Fort Bend County Animal Services, explained in his presentation. “Now there’s no more killing, and the stress relief we all feel is incredible.”
Local laws and policies dictate what happens to cats, so humane change must start there. Fort Bend was no different. Alley Cat Allies Staff Attorney Molly Armus and Calley Gerber, founding attorney of Gerber Animal Law Center, talked to attendees about how they passed Fort Bend County’s TNR-friendly ordinance, and strategies for passing similar legislation in any community.
Jennifer Conrad, DVM, spoke about her worldwide experiences as the founder of the Paw Project, which is collaborating with Alley Cat Allies to successfully pass laws that ban the cruel practice of cat declawing.
There is still a huge need for spay and neuter services around the nation and the world. Rick DuCharme, founder of First Coast No More Homeless Pets, shared how he established lifesaving low-cost spay and neuter and TNR in Jacksonville, Florida, and how others can do the same.
Through Every Kitty, Every City TEXAS, Alley Cat Allies lauded attendees who are rolling up their sleeves to make long-lasting change for cats in their communities. Alley Cat Allies is always here to share our expertise, and we are already planning for future conferences in other regions.