Kandi Habeb, president and founder of the Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program, Inc., in Parkersburg, West Virginia, was recognized recently with a 2018 Governor’s Service Award. The award brought statewide attention to Habeb’s accomplishments: helping more than 6,700 cats and kittens and reducing local shelter euthanasia rates through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

“I was honored that our work to help community cats was recognized,” says Habeb. “After all these years of making TNR work, it’s amazing to see the difference it’s made.”

Habeb’s journey began 15 years ago when she encountered a community cat and her kittens while walking home after dinner. With early guidance and support from Alley Cat Allies, Habeb established her organization in 2004. She and her team of about 50 volunteers work with residents and veterinarians to carry out TNR for hundreds of cats each year—more than 700 in 2018 alone. Habeb has also helped
individuals and organizations around the state develop their own TNR programs.

Habeb says her local shelter killed nearly 400 cats a month back in 2004. Because she kept cats out of the shelter with TNR, she says the only cats euthanized in 2018 were ill and untreatable—not healthy cats as in previous years. This lifesaving change inspires Habeb every day.

“I do this because these (community) cats deserve to live,” she says. “We need to get past the idea that all cats have to live in a house. It’s just not reality. TNR is the best and only way to help them.”

Image Caption: Kandi Habeb poses with Woody: “These cats deserve to live.”