With help from Alley Cat Allies, the city of Charles Town, West Virginia, passed a lifesaving ordinance on Monday supporting Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

Alley Cat Allies worked for months with local advocates and the Charles Town City Council to pass the ordinance, which permits individuals and organizations to carry out TNR and care for community cats by providing food, water, and shelter.

Alley Cat Allies first got involved in Charles Town in April after learning that a local caregiver was fined hundreds of dollars for feeding community cats. Our expert staff moved quickly to help advocates fight this unwarranted and extreme punishment and push for the city to support TNR. We educated council members about community cats and the benefits of TNR, and recommended language for the ordinance. Alley Cat Allies staff also testified in support of the ordinance at a public hearing.

We explained to the city that TNR is the only humane and effective approach to community cat populations. Through TNR, community cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, and returned to their outdoor homes. The practice saves cats’ lives by keeping them out of the shelter, where 70 percent of cats are still killed nationwide. We also educated council members on how TNR saves taxpayer dollars, improves cats’ health, and addresses any community concerns. Charles Town heard us loud and clear.

The new ordinance will not only benefit community cats, but also the people who care for them. It will allow local animal welfare organizations, which tirelessly advocated for this ordinance alongside Alley Cat Allies, to continue and expand their important work.

“This ordinance will now allow me to go into the city of Charles Town to perform TNR services for property holders in the city, without fear of being fined,” says Suzanne Covello, president and executive director of local TNR group Neighborhood C.A.T.

Many compassionate citizens in Charles Town devote their time, money, and energy to care for community cats, but were previously “afraid to feed in their own yards,” says Morgan Spielman, who runs Cat Bluff Sanctuary for community cats in nearby Leetown, West Virginia, and helps people carry out Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR).

“I am very pleased that a change for the better has come,” Spielman says of the new ordinance. “Not only for the humans who want to help but, most importantly, for the cats that need help.”