Years ago, in the early days of her work as a cat advocate in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Samantha Polen was asked to call Alley Cat Allies. She was to gather information about Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the nonlethal approach to cats living outdoors that was taking root throughout the nation because of Alley Cat Allies’ work.
So, Samantha picked up the phone—and spoke directly to Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson.
“That was a turning point for me,” Samantha says. “I began to see cats living outdoors differently.”
Samantha realized that Tulsa’s community cats badly needed a program designed just for them that focused on TNR. She branched out with fellow advocates to launch her own all-volunteer organization: T-Town TNR. The organization is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a member of Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network®.
Since 2015, T-Town TNR has helped more than 3,200 cats and gained the strong support of the Tulsa community and animal shelter.
“By sterilizing community cats, the breeding behaviors like yowling, fighting, and spraying are significantly reduced and no new kittens are born,” says Samantha. “The result is neighborhoods that are healthier, kinder, and safer for both cats and citizens.”
“It’s not unusual for us to hear that we ‘saved’ somebody’s neighborhood,” she adds.
Now, T-Town TNR is working with Alley Cat Allies to change Tulsa’s animal laws. Our advocacy team provided language for proposed updates to the city’s ordinances that will protect community cats, caregivers, and TNR.
To learn even more, T-Town TNR’s grants and IT specialist Elaine Spencer traveled to Dallas in July to attend Alley Cat Allies’ first ever Every Kitty, Every City® TEXAS conference.
“[Alley Cat Allies] has been readily available and so helpful and supportive,” says Elaine. “We’re ready to push for these changes because we have Alley Cat Allies on our side.”
T-Town TNR has always looked to Alley Cat Allies for innovative programs and resources, so joining the Feral Friends Network was a “no-brainer.” As a member, T-Town TNR hopes to unite with others to help more cats and inspire more Oklahoma communities to embrace nonlethal methods.
“Tulsa is surrounded by communities that are dealing with cat populations in very inhumane ways,” says Samantha. “We have to believe that our success [in Tulsa] will help other communities to follow.”