Photography by Alicia Bailey
Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter continue to lead the way in compassionate sheltering here in the Coachella Valley. As the only public shelter operating under a no-kill philosophy, progressive programming and community outreach is critical to saving lives. One program that is essential to life saving is TNR or “Trap. Neuter. Return.” TNR is the humane solution to managing the community cat population.
A managed TNR program is the method where all the cats in a colony are trapped, neutered and then returned to their territory where caretakers provide them with regular food and shelter. At the Palm Spring Animal Shelter, cats in the TNR program are vaccinated for rabies, receive a health check, are treated for internal and external parasites, and any wounds are treated. While the cats are under anesthesia, the left ear is “tipped” or surgically removed to make it easy to identify them as fixed, even from a distance.
The Palm Springs Animal Shelter relies on volunteers and resident cat colony caretakers to monitor colonies to ensure the colony is both safe and healthy, and to quickly trap and fix any new unaltered cats who may appear in or around the colony. Over the last three and half years, Palm Springs has worked diligently to educate the community and debunk myths about how to deal with community cat populations. Unfortunately, the common practice by many animal control departments is to “catch and kill” colonies of community cats. The thought is that eradicating them will make them go away. Catch and kill is not sustainable. More importantly, it is a cruel and ineffective practice. Feral cats are the same species as pet cats and are protected under animal cruelty laws in many states, California included.
Some benefits of an effective TNR program are:
– TNR reduces the number of animals admitted to shelters.
– Feral cats that are trapped, neutered/spayed and returned can no longer reproduce.
– Spaying and neutering reduces noise and other nuisance behaviors.
– When a colony is managed by a caretaker, new cats are quickly TNR’d and the population stabilizes and declines over time.
– The quality of life for existing colonies is improved.
What you can do to help:
– If you see cats in your neighborhood, call our Cat Action Hotline: 760-820-CAT1
– Look for a “tipped” ear before feeding. Feeding unfixed cats increases reproduction.
– Become a TNR Volunteer! We need help trapping cats, educating the public, administering clinic days and fostering litters of kittens.
The positive impact of the Palm Springs TNR program can already be seen. Shelter Director, Dr. Shayda Ahkami states, “As the community becomes increasingly educated and aware of how to effectively manage free-roaming cats, the number of kittens entering the shelter will decline. This year, we hope to cast an even wider net and expand throughout the Coachella Valley to save more lives.”
For more information on the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, their many life saving programs, or to make a donation, visit their website at psanimalshelter.org. The shelter is located at 4575 East Mesquite Ave. Palm Springs, CA 92264 / phone: 760-416-5718.