On November 28, The Shreveport City Council passed an ordinance that creates an official Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, which it calls the city’s preferred method for community cats. The ordinance becomes effective on December 8.

Caddo Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn, whose district includes Shreveport, spearheaded the effort to implement the ordinance along with City Councilmembers Jeff Everson and Oliver Jenkins, who first introduced it at a November 14 council meeting. Thanks to the council’s quick action and the support of advocates, the measure passed swiftly.

The ordinance ensures that animal control officers and shelters do their part to support TNR and protect community cats. It declares that animal control and shelter staff will “prioritize the Trap-Neuter-Return method as the preferred outcome for community cats by directing impounded, non-eartipped, free-roaming cats to the Trap-Neuter-Return process.” (Eartipping is the universal sign that community cats have been part of a TNR program.)

Animal control will no longer impound eartipped cats, and only allow the trapping of community cats to conduct TNR. With 70 percent of cats—and virtually 100 percent of community cats—killed in shelters nationwide, these changes will mean the difference between life and death for countless Shreveport cats.

The ordinance also defines important terms like “community cat” and “community cat caregiver,” which protect the cats and the compassionate citizens who care for them. For example, the ordinance states clearly that community cat caregivers are not “the owner, custodian, harborer, controller, or keeper of a community cat.” So caregivers do not have the responsibilities of an owner, like following mandatory licensing laws, which are almost impossible to uphold for unsocialized community cats. It also means that returning cats to their outdoor homes as part of TNR cannot be considered “abandonment.”

Alley Cat Allies has been working with Shreveport advocates and officials to introduce an official TNR program, and we’re proud and delighted to see this ordinance on the books. In August 2017, our staff traveled to Shreveport to meet with key stakeholders to boost discussions on TNR. We held presentations and spoke one-on-one with shelter staff, spay/neuter clinic staff, local government officials, and citizens about the benefits of a TNR program.

We also had some help from local advocate Candy Peavy, board president of Robinson’s Rescue, a local high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Peavy has been meeting with local officials for years to urge the adoption of a TNR ordinance. She sees firsthand how much TNR helps cats and residents—the clinic has provided thousands of spay/neuter surgeries for owned and community cats.

“TNR has been in the public dialogue here for a while, but it’s always just been up to individuals” to carry it out, Peavy says. “An official TNR ordinance will do great things for this city—and its cats!”

Thank you to the Shreveport City Council, especially Councilmembers Jeff Everson and Oliver Jenkins, as well as Caddo Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn, for passing this lifesaving ordinance and creating a more feline-friendly community. Alley Cat Allies looks forward to seeing the positive impact of this new TNR program.