A long time photo project for me is “Feral Faces.” It records the personalities in a feral cat colony in my neighborhood. I’ve followed this pride for nearly 10 years now. In that 10 years I’ve seen a multitude of attempts to reduce the out of control population of the colony. The most disastrous being the season that a third of the population was removed to a shelter. That resulted in the colony more than doubling in the span of 4 months.
The only thing that has ever made a long term dent in the population of this colony has been TNR. Trap Neuter and Release (of course females are spayed but TNSR is a mouthful). For years this meant paying over $200 per cat to have one or two fixed at a time as I could trap them and scrape together the extra cash. Sure there are “low cost” certificates out there but every single vet within a 45 minute drive of my location either didn’t take the certificates or added on so many extra items that the total was always at least $200. The vet for my cats cut his fees for us so that we only paid about $150 per cat but when you are facing a colony of about 45 cats that is still a daunting total.
Enter Alabama Spay/Neuter with a grant from one of the large pet stores. For several months they provided completely free spay/neuter for outdoor cats in our area. For those months I spent every extra moment trapping, and sometimes just flat out grabbing, wild cats and wrangling them into carriers. I got permission to trap on a neighbor’s land as well…a neighbor who had been taken advantage of for years by people throwing cats out of moving vehicles as they passed her house. Seriously, that really happened on more than one occasion. The lowlifes couldn’t even be bothered to stop long enough to let the cats out safely.
By the time it was over, the wonderful folks at Alabama Spay/Neuter knew me on sight, by name, and by the sound of my voice when I had to call. Grand total – 40 cats fixed and released. Only a couple of females remained unfixed and they rarely made appearances in the area. Within a couple of years the population of the colony was about half what it had been. The wild life is not safe for cats, nor is it long. This year we’ve had more drop offs from slime who can’t be bothered to fix their own cats and instead dump them on others. But with Alabama Spay/Neuter I know we can stay ahead of this and prevent another population boom. But ONLY if the low cost spay and neuter clinics continue to operate.
The Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners wants to shut down low cost spay and neuter clinics like Alabama Spay/Neuter. They say that because someone other than a vet runs the business side (even though a vet runs the actual surgery side and hires all the vets working there) the animals are not being cared for properly. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Over the course of those months I saw the dedication of the folks at Alabama Spay/Neuter. I saw the care with which they treated every animal that came through the door…friendly or wild. I saw them learn the personality of the cats within the 3 days they each stayed there. I watched many times as they taught pet owners and animal caretakers how to care for their pets after surgery, what warning signs to look for, and when to call with complications. I’ve heard the passion in the voices of the volunteers when they talk about the animals. I’ve seen team members nearly in tears over stories of what some of these wild furbabies and pets have been through in their lives. I can not imagine how bad it is going to get if spay and neuter clinics in Alabama are shut down. Not only in my little corner of the state but everywhere. Shelters that already have insanely high euthanasia rates will be forced to euthanize even more in an order of magnitudes. Wild colonies will explode again in population. Dog packs will increase drastically. Disease, including rabies, will rise drastically because with overpopulation of animals disease always comes…especially as the increasing packs move closer to humans.
Please help save the low cost spay and neuter facilities in Alabama. How can you help? The State Board meets October 10th over the latest proposed rule that would shut down many clinics (and prevent shelters from employing vets). Share this blog post, write your own posts in support of spay and neuter facilities, and most of all write to the State Board. They are legally required to consider all public comment. Put it in writing and make them listen!
Send letters to:
Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
c/o: Tammy Wallace
8 Commerce Street, Suite 910
Montgomery, AL 36130-5330