Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson to travel to Virginia county to support budding TNR program.

Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, is heading to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in late February to help community members launch the county’s recently approved Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) policy.

Robinson will hold two Community Cat Workshops, one on February 27 and the other on February 29. Each will be a welcoming space to learn how to help cats and get involved in the new TNR program. Alley Cat Allies has also provided the Pittsylvania Pet Center, which will be operating the program, with a supply of humane traps to get the lifesaving ball rolling.

“Pittsylvania County has earned our praise by choosing to address its community cat population in a humane, effective way,” Robinson said. “Our workshops will give local caregivers the effective approaches we’ve developed while establishing TNR programs throughout the country. They will be an enriching experience not only for people who are already caring for cats and want some helpful pointers, but most importantly for those who want to get involved for the first time to help cats in their neighborhood. We want to lend our expertise to help this new policy get off to a smooth start.”

Alley Cat Allies is proud to have worked to implement nonlethal policies and transform the state of Virginia into a national model for the humane treatment of cats. TNR has effectively reduced shelter intake, “euthanasia” rates, and calls to animal services, all of which saves cats’ lives and taxpayer dollars. Scientific studies show that TNR ends the breeding cycle, meaning no new kittens are born outdoors.

By embracing TNR and transparency (Virginia requires all animal organizations to annually report their data), many of the state’s shelters have evolved from the old days of killing half or more of the cats in their care. Virginia is now close to achieving a statewide 90% save rate for cats and other animals.

The Norfolk SPCA in the Hampton Roads area, The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, the Lynchburg Humane Society, the Richmond SPCA, and the Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA are just some of the many Virginia communities and organizations that have become shining examples for our nation through their successful TNR programs. These same programs are inspiring Pittsylvania County right now as it moves forward with its new TNR policy.

Pittsylvania County, and the independent city of Danville within its borders, are some of the last communities in the state that need serious help with cats. As one of Virginia’s largest counties by square mile, Pittsylvania County has historically struggled with high intake and euthanasia of cats in shelters—particularly community cats who are unowned and live outdoors. Though rescue organizations have been leading transports of cats out of Danville, the shelter euthanized nearly 80% of impounded cats in 2019.

The killing needs to stop. That’s why Alley Cat Allies is bringing in our 30 years of expertise to empower community members as Pittsylvania County’s new TNR program takes hold. The county’s board of supervisors near-unanimously voted to make TNR official county policy on January 27.

“After reviewing the issue and best practices put in place in other localities to humanely tackle this challenge, the County has determined that Trap, Neuter and Return (“TNR”) is the best course of action,” the new community cat policy reads.

Pittsylvania animal control will no longer pick up or receive community cats “unless they show signs of being sick or injured.” Instead, the Pittsylvania Pet Center and the SPCA of Pittsylvania County will work with experienced advocates to spay and neuter, vaccinate, and eartip community cats—and then return them to their outdoor homes. Every step will be covered by grant funding.

“The goal is for Pittsylvania to be a leader and a beacon in this area of the state. We want to be ahead of the curve in saving cats’ lives so other communities can say ‘look, Pittsylvania did it and so can we,'” says James McLaughlin, director of the Pittsylvania Pet Center. “I get goosebumps thinking about the lifesaving impact TNR will have for years to come.”

The merits of TNR aren’t up for debate anymore, especially in Virginia. Communities across the Commonwealth have experienced firsthand that TNR is sound public policy that saves cats’ lives. Now that TNR is the official approach in Pittsylvania County, all that is left to do is bring advocates together to ensure the new program starts strong.

Alley Cat Allies’ Community Cat Workshops will help support and grow this community. The workshops will show people new to TNR how they can take action and help existing TNR advocates as they continue their critical work with the county on their side.

If you live in Pittsylvania County and would like to attend the workshops, you can register here.