This letter to the editor was originally published in the Times Leader on June 24, 2019.

Wilkes-Barre is at a crossroads in its responsibility to protect cats who live here. At this critical moment, it’s important to recommit to the only humane and effective method to address community cat populations—Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR.

TNR is the process in which community cats, sometimes called feral cats, are trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, eartipped for identification and returned to their outdoor homes. TNR is a mainstream practice. Thousands of communities conduct grassroots, volunteer-led TNR programs, and hundreds have adopted official TNR ordinances and policies.

Why is TNR so popular? Scientific studies show that TNR ends the breeding cycle, meaning no new kittens are born outdoors. It reduces shelter intake, “euthanasia,” and calls to animal services, all of which saves taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, TNR improves the lives of community cats and improves their relationships with people who live near them.

It would be unacceptable for Wilkes-Barre to move backwards and return to a policy of killing cats. Too often in our country, sending cats to shelters is a deadly decision. More cats are killed in shelters than die from any other documented cause. For community cats who are unsocialized and unadoptable, the kill rate is virtually 100 percent.

In a recent poll by Harris Interactive, 84 percent of Americans said they prefer their community use tax dollars to adopt sterilization as its cat control policy instead of bringing cats found outdoors into shelters to be killed. Now that Wilkes-Barre is facing just such a question, the choice for TNR could not be more clear.

Becky Robinson

President and Founder

Alley Cat Allies

Bethesda, Md.