Barriers to the groundbreaking Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in Hernando County, Florida, have just come crumbling down. The Hernando Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a countywide TNR program in April, but the county’s animal control code needed updates to fully support the measure. On October 9, the board voted to approve an ordinance with those updates.

The revised ordinance includes language and definitions provided by Alley Cat Allies. It permits citizens to become community cat caregivers and work with local organizations, including Hernando County Animal Services and PetLuv Non-Profit Spay & Neuter Clinic, to engage in TNR. It also officially allows Hernando County Animal Services to divert healthy community cats to the TNR program to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped, and returned to their outdoor homes.

Community cats, who are unadoptable, can now leave the shelter alive.

Under the ordinance, caregivers are not considered the owners of community cats, but rather Good Samaritans who provide care and carry out TNR. Now, citizens can protect and improve community cats’ lives without worrying about the legal costs and responsibilities associated with being deemed an owner.

Alley Cat Allies is thrilled to see these changes pass. Our staff helped get the TNR program approved back in April, including traveling to Hernando to tour Hernando County Animal Services, meet with advocates, and attend a Board of County Commissioners meeting to testify on the benefits of TNR to elected officials. We then guided Hernando County Animal Services manager James Terry as he approached the commissioners to make the new updates to the animal control code.

Hernando County’s new TNR program can now do its lifesaving work to benefit cats, the shelter, and the community unimpeded. Alley Cat Allies looks forward to the program’s success as a model for surrounding communities.