Here’s some good news to kick off your Tuesday! Maryland just awarded $892,864 to save cats with funds for low-cost spay and neuter initiatives and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs in 2019. Five of those grants were awarded to members of Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network®.
Before Alley Cat Allies was formed 28 years ago, TNR was virtually unheard of in Maryland or in the United States, and low-cost spay and neuter clinics didn’t exist for community cats. Today TNR is the mainstream approach to community cats. These grants, issued by the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Spay and Neuter Grants Program, is an endorsement of TNR and an affirmation of the state’s commitment to non-lethal methods to address community cat populations.
The state has awarded these grants since 2013, though it wasn’t until 2015 that TNR groups were among the recipients. This year is the largest award to date and includes more TNR and low-cost spay and neuter programs than in previous years.
These grants will dramatically improve and save about 9,000 community cats living and thriving in Maryland. Here’s why. TNR keeps community cats out of shelters, where most of them are killed because they are unsocialized to people and therefore not adoptable. Shelters can then direct efforts to adoptable cats and other animals in their care. In addition, TNR will prevent these community cats from having litters, which ultimately stabilizes the population. TNR also benefits public health because cats are vaccinated for rabies and feline diseases during the process.
Without Alley Cat Allies and our supporters, there likely would be no state funding for TNR, or TNR groups, or even TNR programs. Together, through our advocacy and education, we’ve made TNR mainstream and helped encourage Maryland to endorse and invest in it.
And because the grant money comes from the fees pet food companies pay to sell products in Maryland, saving community cats’ lives will costs taxpayers nothing.
We still have a long way to go. Too many communities rely on outdated lethal practices to address cat populations. Too few communities fund humane and effective approaches, including TNR and low-cost spay and neuter programs.
Maryland is among our nation’s leaders in recognizing that low-cost spay and neuter and TNR work hand-in-hand. Maryland’s investment in spay and neuter programs and TNR sets an example for other states to follow. We hope it will provide the motivation for other states to support non-lethal approaches to community cats so that people and cats can co-exist together.