Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson and leaders in Fairfax County, Virginia, animal sheltering came together on December 13 to honor all the cats’ lives they saved by carrying out Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for a decade. Empowered by Robinson’s leadership and Alley Cat Allies’ guidance, Fairfax County launched its model TNR program in 2008.
As of today, the program has brought together nearly 500 community members to save about 8,000 community cats and kittens in Fairfax County, one of the largest suburbs outside Washington, D.C.
“I am so thrilled to see the county reach this incredible milestone,” Robinson said at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter committee meeting she attended to celebrate. “The impact on the shelter has been incredible, from being able to spend more time with special needs cases, to less stress for cats”¯in a shelter that wasn’t”¯overcrowded,”¯and staff who weren’t burdened with the terrible job of euthanizing healthy cats. Fairfax County serves as a”¯shining”¯example of the benefits a community can realize by embracing TNR.””¯
Gina Lynch, a member of the Fairfax County Shelter Advisory Commission and a longtime cat advocate, presented Robinson with a certificate to honor her help and dedication in transforming Fairfax County into a humane community that protects and respects cats’ lives.
“Your passion, coupled with your tenacity, has allowed the [TNR] program to gain hold in large and small areas of the world,” the certificate read. “Your model has been used by the Fairfax County Animal Shelter very successfully, along with other animal rescue groups in the area.”
Robinson then presented The Oliver, an Alley Cat Allies award to honor individuals and groups who have given their time, energy, and heart to protecting and improving cats’ lives, to Karen Diviney. Diviney is a member of the Fairfax County Department of Animal Sheltering and was one of the key figures in kicking off the TNR program that has made Fairfax County a better, more humane place for cats.
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter says TNR has significantly reduced its intake of cats and kittens, which has saved cats’ lives and taxpayer dollars. With fewer community cats coming in, the shelter can instead focus its critical time and resources on adoptable cats.
It’s all possible by harnessing the power of the community. The shelter works closely with caregivers to humanely trap community cats, transport them to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped by the shelter’s onsite veterinarian, and then return them to their outdoor homes. More than 100 cats a month are served at the shelter’s spay and neuter clinics.
“Our TNR program has been successful in weaving our shelter’s resources and the selfless dedication of our volunteers into a seamless operation that benefits our community cats,” said Lynch.
Also present at the meeting was David Rohrer, Fairfax County’s deputy county executive who is responsible for overseeing the shelter and was a part of the governing body that approved the TNR program 10 years ago. Before advocates like Diviney spoke out, he had never even heard of TNR. But, after learning about its many benefits, he agreed to support the program. A decade later, he is more than satisfied with his decision.
“I want to thank you [Diviney] for the idea, and the work, and certainly many others in the community who do [TNR],” said Rohrer. “And thank all of you who are continuing to do this.”
Alley Cat Allies is proud to have helped build this humane foundation that will continue to save thousands of cats’ lives. We look forward to seeing all Fairfax County accomplishes for cats in the future.