We spent part of August in Louisiana, helping animal control officers and animal shelter staff learn about the positive impact of community-based Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs. Alice Burton, Alley Cat Allies’ Associate Director of Animal Shelter and Animal Control Engagement, gave a presentation for the second year in a row at the Louisiana Animal Control Association’s annual conference in Baton Rouge.
Alice met so many wonderful animal control officers and shelter employees who were eager to learn about TNR. Afterward, Alice and I traveled to Shreveport, LA, to meet with Candy Peavy, a local resident and dedicated animal advocate who contacted us in the hopes of getting a TNR program started.
To create and implement TNR programs effectively, it requires individuals and groups to come together. We collaborated with key stakeholders in all aspects of creating a strong TNR program, including people who work with animals at the local shelter, those who work in a high-volume spay/neuter clinic, local government officials, and concerned members of the public.
On our first day, we took a tour and met the staff of a high-volume spay and neuter clinic called Robinson’s Rescue. This amazing facility provides low-cost spay and neuter surgeries and, through a subsidy from Caddo Parish, free surgeries to the pets of low-income individuals. Robinson’s Rescue also provides spay and neuter, a rabies vaccination, and eartip services for community cats. People who bring in community cats receive a discount of $10 off the surgery and $5 off the rabies vaccine. In short, Robinson’s Rescue makes a huge difference for residents and groups who are practicing TNR!
We then met with the staff at the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter. After a tour of the shelter, and a fun visit with some of their adoptable cats and dogs, we all sat down to discuss TNR. Alice and I addressed the staffs’ concerns and taught them the best ways to talk to the public about TNR and community cats. By the end of our meeting, the staff understood that trap and remove was not an effective approach for cats or residents and wanted to learn more about how TNR could help their community.
Next, we connected with local government officials, including the Caddo Parish Commissioners, the Shreveport City Council, and the Mayor. We also met with the Caddo Parish Attorney to discuss the legal aspects of passing a cat-friendly ordinance and starting a TNR program. Thankfully, all these officials were open to discussing TNR and community cats. Some even knew about the successful TNR programs in other Louisiana communities and were eager to bring that success to Caddo Parish!
Finally, we held a public workshop to share information about TNR, community cats, and the laws that impact cats and animal shelters. Over 60 residents attended! All were engaged, asked questions, and were excited to hear about the connections we’d made in their community in just a few days. Individuals and groups who had done TNR spoke about their experiences and voiced their concerns, mostly about the lack of protections for local community cats and their caregivers. These citizens left our workshop empowered and eager to help start a strong TNR program in Caddo Parish!
Overall, it was wonderful and productive trip to Louisiana! We will continue to strengthen the new relationships that we made on this trip, and look forward to helping Caddo Parish and the city of Shreveport develop its own TNR program.
Until next time!
Alley Cat Allies’ Humane Law & Policy Division