Published in The Journal on April 20, 2018

By Becky Robinson, president and founder
Alley Cat Allies
Bethesda, Maryland:

As the global engine of change for cats, Alley Cat Allies supports the dedicated people who are caring for outdoor cats in Charles Town (The Journal, March 20). Their method, Trap-Neuter-Return, has been proven worldwide as the only humane and effective approach to outdoor cat populations.

Scientific studies show that TNR immediately ends the cycle of breeding and stabilizes the population of cats. It eliminates mating behaviors, such as yowling, spraying, roaming and fighting, and allows cats and people coexist.

But TNR does not stop there. The number of calls to animal control agencies drop and so does cat intake at shelters. But most importantly, the number of cats who are “euthanized” is greatly reduced. Fewer cats in shelters leads to dramatic declines in illness, such as upper respiratory infections, which are closely associated with stress and crowding. All of this saves taxpayer dollars.

Some communities in West Virginia are still using the outdated and cruel approach of feeding bans, which have proven time and again to be wholly ineffective. Besides being impossible to enforce, prohibiting caregivers from providing food simply encourages cats to roam further to find it. Cats become more visible in the community, which leads to an increase in calls to animal control. Worst of all, these laws punish the people who are working to improve conditions for cats and the community.

Fortunately, Charles Town city council has shown interest in working with Alley Cat Allies and the local advocates on changing their laws for the better.

Thousands of towns and cities conduct TNR programs, and we have tracked more than 650 that have adopted official TNR policies and ordinances. Charles Town has an opportunity to join them. We encourage Charles Town to follow the lead of its dedicated volunteers and fully embrace TNR for the people and cats who live here.