In our “From the Field” series we share reflections and field notes from our staff members who work hands-on, every day, to protect and improve the lives of cats.

Kayla-emailthumbMy name is Kayla Christiano and I’m the Campaigns Manager for Alley Cat Allies. One of my biggest roles is to help municipalities implement effective and more humane practices for community cats.

Last week, I traveled up to Harford County, Maryland to take a tour of The Humane Society of Harford County’s brand new shelter facility. The new shelter represents a new beginning for the Humane Society, and that beginning includes a new dedication to humane policies for cats. I’m proud to say that Alley Cat Allies helped the Humane Society implement a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) diversion program that is already saving cats in the community!

Getting a tour of the brand new facility.

Getting a tour of the brand new facility.

My work with Harford County started in the Spring of 2015. We were contacted about a city council meeting where feral cats were on the agenda. This is where I met Jean Salvatore, the president of Best Friends in Harford County, and we began our journey.

Alley Cat Allies met with numerous individuals from Harford County throughout the following months, from caregivers to city officials, veterinarians, and TNR groups. Together, we came up with a plan for cats that best fit the community. Things started to really look up for Harford County’s cats in the Fall of 2015 when Jen Swanson, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Harford County, and Cat Kelly, Shelter Operations Director, came to us for guidance on making humane changes in the shelter to save more cats. With the help of Best Friends in Harford County, we were able to come together and implement a pilot TNR diversion program for community cats at the shelter.

Since the end of December of 2015, all community cats coming through the Humane Society’s door, as well as constituents calling for TNR help, are directed to Best Friends in Harford County. Best Friends then spays or neuters, vaccinates, and eartips the cats and returns them to their outdoor homes. We are thrilled to say that as of April 14th, 34 cats have been saved through this program, with many more to come in the future. No healthy feral cats have been killed at the shelter since December!

Saving cats' lives, like handsome silver tabby Ash, is what this is all about.

Saving cats’ lives, like handsome silver tabby Ash, is what this is all about.

I will never forget the amazing feeling I had when Cat emailed me and told me that the first two cats were sent to Best Friends in Harford County. The shelter workers have really felt the positive impact of saving these cats, and we couldn’t have done it without this partnership and cooperation.

We hope that this model program can be used to give other shelters the confidence to achieve lifesaving change for cats, even if they’re an open admission shelter like The Humane Society of Harford County.

We plan to do a second shelter training at the Humane Society in the next coming months to further expand their resources and knowledge. I’m so proud of the accomplishments this shelter has made, and we’re very excited to continue our support in Harford County!

Until next time,