Grant from advocacy organization will support lifesaving programs for cats in Fort Myers, Fla.

For Immediate Release: January 15, 2014

Contact: JOHNNIE SIMPSON, [email protected] or (240) 482-3895 or FRANCIE ISRAELI, [email protected] or (202) 207-1134

BETHESDA, MDLee County Domestic Animal Services in Fort Myers, Fla. has been chosen as one of five participants nationwide in a unique grant program created by Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy organization for cats.

The program, called Future Five: Shelter Partners to Save Cats’ Lives, is designed to develop five model shelterseach representing a different shelter structure regularly found in the United States, including nonprofits, government-funded and private-public partnerships. The grantees were also chosen based on their demographicswhich include a mix of rural and urban areas serving large and small populations. Each of the shelters chosen for the Future Five grant program will receive an award of $5,000 along with one year of expert guidance to help expand and sustain humane and effective programs for cats.

“We are certainly appreciative to have the guidance and support of Alley Cat Allies to strengthen our policies and programs that serve our mission for higher live release rates of stray animals,” says Donna Ward, animal services director of Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

During the one year engagement, Lee County Domestic Animal Services’ progress and experiences will be documented and developed as a case study that can instruct other shelters in similar situations how to transition to lifesaving, results-oriented programs for cats. Currently, on a national level, more than 70 percent of all cats and virtually 100 percent of feral catscommonly referred to as community catswho enter shelters are killed there. Alley Cat Allies is dedicated to helping shelters evolve and embrace lifesaving programs, including Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), building a foster home network, neutering before adoption, and providing access to low-cost spay/neuter services.

“The Future Five program recognizes shelters across the United States that have made a commitment to design and adopt humane programs for cats,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Lee County Domestic Animal Services is uniquely positioned to provide hands-on support and education that can save countless cats’ lives.”

Lee County Domestic Animal Services implemented a TNR program in 2009, where residents are encouraged to help humanely trap community cats and bring them to the shelter. There, healthy feral cats will be provided with spay/neuter and vaccinations, and will be eartippedthe tip of the left ear is removed while the cat is anesthetized to identify the cat as neutered and vaccinated. After a short recovery period they are returned to their outdoor homes.

As in Lee County, thousands of communities across the country are carrying out TNR programs. In the last decade, the number of cities and counties that officially endorse TNR has increased tenfold to 350, including Chicago, Baltimore, Albuquerque and Washington, D.C. TNR stabilizes and eventually reduces outdoor cat populations over time, while also saving money that could be dedicated to community education and adoption programs.

“Communities want programs that protect catsand shelters like Lee County Domestic Animal Services are listening and adjusting their policies,” says Juliana deRosa, senior manager of community engagement for Alley Cat Allies. “The Future Five program is setting the course for the future of animal sheltering.”


About Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has nearly half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Its website is

About Lee County Domestic Animal Services

Lee County Domestic Animal Services, a government-operated shelter serving the county and providing animal control services, serves nearly 640,000 people. Its average cat intake is about 5,000 per year. The shelter implemented a Trap-Neuter-Return program in 2009 and is committed to creating positive community-wide change and saving cats’ lives.