Flagler Humane Society has seen a 23 percent drop in the number of stray kittens that entered the shelter between 2013 and 2015. The significant decline in kittens means that trap-neuter-return efforts in Flagler are having a positive effect, the society’s commitment to spaying and neutering animals is working, the public, community and wildlife are more safe and tax dollars are being saved.

feral kittens
Feral kittens and mother

One of the biggest contributors to the drop in intakes though has been through trap, neuter and return efforts for community cats in Flagler county. Thanks to grant funding from Florida Animal Friend the humane society, community groups and volunteers have been able to spay and neuter hundreds of unowned cats, vaccinate them and release them back where they were living.

The TNR efforts in Flagler have come a long way with the help of organizations like Community Cats of Palm Coast, local ordinance changes to allow for cats and because of dedicated volunteers and medical professionals. The majority of cats brought in have been trapped by volunteers of local citizens. The cats have surgery, receive a rabies vaccination and have the tip of their left ear notched off so they can be identified as being fixed. There are also many local veterinarians volunteer their time and clinics to perform surgery.

Virtually every animal adopted from Flagler Humane Society is spayed or neutered with the only exception being because of age or for health reasons. “We’ve been committed to only adopting out animals that have been altered for decades,” said Amy Carotenuto, Flagler Humane Society Executive Director. “We perform surgery on any of our animals here at our shelter that need it as well as for the public for low-cost.”

Citizens also benefit from TNR from not experiencing the nuisance problems that come from unsterilized cats. Issues like spraying and howling go away, no new kittens are born and the overall problem decreases. Plus the public is happy with the solution. A 2007 survey by cat advocacy group Alley Cat Allies found that 81 percent of people surveyed believe that community cats should be allowed to live out their lives roaming free.

Most importantly, TNR and a reduction in kitten intakes helps saves taxpayers money and allows for more humane treatment of all cats. According to the advocacy group Target-Zero Institute, “ Keeping community cats and their subsequent litters out of public animal shelters will save taxpayers money and improve the likelihood that other shelter cats will be adopted. Decreasing overall cat intake also leads to less crowding, an opportunity for more humane cat housing, less stress for staff and cats and cost savings.”