Community cats and their caregivers may soon be celebrating new lifesaving policies in North Canton, Ohio, thanks to the hard work of one of Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network members.

At a North Canton City Council meeting on September 11, Jill Kirsch, founder of Trap-Neuter-Return organization Cripple Creek Ferals and Friends, urged the city to adopt a TNR program. She talked about TNR’s benefits to cats and the community, and how catch and kill policies are cruel and ineffective. The meeting was an unprecedented full house, as advocates traveled from around the state to join Jill and speak on behalf of community cats.

Mayor David J. Held expressed support for starting a TNR program, and said he would hold a town hall seminar to discuss it. A councilwoman invited Jill to speak to two additional groups about TNR and community cats. North Canton Law Director Timothy Fox also was in favor of TNR, citing his love for his own four rescue cats.

Jill said she was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response, and looks forward to helping North Canton save more cats’ lives.

“[The Council was] impressed with my knowledge and with all of the materials provided,” says Jill. “They commented that they have never had that many people at a meeting before…I am just thrilled it went so well!”

Jill decided to present to the council after two incidents inspired concern for the safety of North Canton’s cats and caregivers. Earlier this year, law enforcement threatened to fine an elderly woman if she did not keep her colony—which Jill helped to TNR—confined to her property. Around the same time, a resident filed a nuisance complaint about the community cats on a local property, which prompted the health department and city officials to meet with the property owner.

Wanting to get ahead of the matter, Jill took initiative to educate the council and mayor about community cats and the important public service caregivers provide. Alley Cat Allies was proud to support her by providing our expertise and materials. Jill presented every councilmember  with our educational brochures and a copy of the successful Sebring, Ohio TNR ordinance, which Alley Cat Allies staff helped draft.

Working with local governments is the best way to ensure community cats and caregivers receive the protection and support they need. When officials and animal control officers work in partnership with the community, TNR efforts tend to run smoothly and can reach even more cats.

Thanks to Jill and other advocates, a government-supported TNR program may be full speed ahead in North Canton. Alley Cat Allies looks forward to seeing the progress and stands ready to help make it happen.