More often than not, the Rosenberg Animal Control and Shelter is riddled with cats.
Which is why Animal Control Director Mara Hartsell wants the city to participate in the Trap/Neuter/Return pilot program. At this week’s Rosenberg City Council workshop meeting, Hartsell presented the pilot program to council.
In September, the Animal Control Shelter Advisory board voted to establish and implement a TNR pilot program. According to city staff, TNR programs are nationally recognized as the preferred means to humanely control feral feline populations without resorting to euthanasia.
“With a pilot program, it’s going to be a minimized cost to begin with,” Hartsell told council. “That will be the period with which we can better assess the needs of TNR in our community.
“I don’t want to ask for any funding. Part of why I was hired was because you need a creative, innovative type of person in this role and I’m happy to explore nonprofit partnerships, grassroots fundraising efforts (and) grant writing.
“I’m asking for permission to move forward with an abstract idea and I can return with a more concrete plan.”
Mayor Bill Benton asked Hartsell to get the ball rolling as soon as possible and the rest of council agreed. Before council unanimously agreed for Hartsell to move forward with the program, animal rights activists spoke in favor of TNR. Houston, Richmond, Sugar Land and Rosenberg residents spoke, imploring the council to follow through with the pilot program.
“As a taxpaying citizen in Rosenberg, I am in full support of passing TNR because I know it will prevent having more outdoor cats around our city,” Animal Control Advisory Board member Lorene Lindsey said. “TNR prevents cats from reproducing and also prevents other cats from moving into that cat’s colony. I don’t want to spend more money on housing outdoor cats, killing them or having to build a bigger facility in the future.
“Catching and killing them or catching and dumping them elsewhere does not work and is inhumane.” Pecan Grove resident Beth Hammond said she started a TNR grassroots program in her neighborhood to address the community cats in the area in December 2015.
“I’m happy to say we are fairly inactive today due to all the hard work that was done from that point until November 2016. Hammond explained that it took a lot of volunteers and trial and error before the neighborhood saw a decrease in feral cats. “I’m here today to encourage the recommendations of TNR,” she finished.
“If a small bunch of crazy cat ladies can do this, you can too.”
Houston resident and Friends for Life director Salise Shuttlesworth said she started a TNR program in 2013. Since the program’s inception, TNR has stabilized 2,051 colonies and prevented 110,000 animals from entering a shelter system.
“Ninety-two percent of cats born are born to free-roaming cats,” Shuttlesworth explained. “This is a massive weight on the shelter system.
“If you really love cats, then TNR is the program for you. If you can’t stand cats, TNR is the program for you, because it will end us up in the same place — fewer community cats.”
The proposed TNR pilot program would last six months and targets high-activity areas, such as Parrott Avenue, Ruby Street and Lane Drive. The program would also establish best practices before potentially expanding to a city-wide TNR program.
The program will include:
■ Provisions for community cat caregivers;
■ Public education/outreach efforts;
■ Coordination with individuals and animal welfare groups;
■ Effective cost management practices; and
■ Establishing standard operating procedures for the transport and care of cats undergoing sterilization.