One of the places that has made big gains is Huntsville, Ala.
When Tracey Durning first met her dog, Fred, in an animal shelter in New York City in 1995, he looked underfed and was shaking uncontrollably. A five-year-old terrier mix with wiry hair, Fred had been given up by his previous family. Durning adopted him, set him up in a warm bed, smothered him with affection, and fed him well. “The transformation was amazing,” she said.
A delightful personality emerged and Fred soon became a well-liked figure in SoHo, greeted by gallery owners, waiters and doormen as he walked down the streets. “Upon meeting Fred, the stigma of ‘damaged shelter animals’ — which is still prevalent today, but was even worse then — was totally obliterated,” said Durning. “He was everything you’d want in a dog and more.” She added: “He was also a big reason that many people I knew decided to adopt instead of buy their dogs.”
If these approaches can save the lives of so many animals, why isn’t everyone using them?
After Fred died in 2010, Durning, a social entrepreneur, wanted to do something to honor his memory. She started looking into the plight of shelter animals, a national problem.
One of the places that has made big gains is Huntsville, Ala. Karen Sheppard, the director of animal services for Huntsville, recalled that, a few years back, she would often go home after work and burst into tears. A veterinarian and animal lover, Sheppard oversaw the public shelter, and when it became overcrowded, it fell on her to euthanize the cats and dogs for which homes could not be found. “It hurt a lot,” she said.
Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15th from 4-9PM at Alcove International Tavern for a benefit to raise money for TSNIP's feral cat program. All tips during tomorrow night's happy hour will be donated to TSNIP to support efforts to manage feral cat colonies in Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas. Join us and tip big for TSNIP! Come to support TSNIP, and stay for Jazz Night from 9-12PM.
For more information about the happy hour event, visit Alcove's Facebook page.
Can't make it to Alcove but would still like to give? No problem! Visit our support page to donate securely online.
The Tuscaloosa Spay & Neuter Incentive Program, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, was founded in the spring of 2013 with the mission of reducing the unwanted pet population in Tuscaloosa County through a variety of programs. FOr more information about our programs, visit our website at tsnip.org.
Nonprofit uses humane way to reduce local feral population
By Elayne Smith
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Published: Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 10:00 p.m.Last Modified: Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 10:46 p.m.
University of Alabama students Cole Parkey, a senior from Fort Worth, Texas, and Mallory Kennedy, a junior from Hazel Green, read a display about the Trap-Neuter-Return program. Students from Central High School, the University of Alabama and Davis-Emerson Middle School set up booths to promote awareness of the Tuscaloosa Spay Neuter Incentive Program, which was started to address the problem of high numbers of feral cats in the Tuscaloosa area.
Erin Nelson | The Tuscaloosa News
Members of a nonprofit Tuscaloosa group believe they have a solution to a persistent problem: stray cats.
The Tuscaloosa Spay and Neuter Initiative Program, known as TSNIP, sought a more humane and lasting alternative to having feral cats captured by local animal control officers and then euthanized.
Lucy Roberts, a local veterinarian who helped found TSNIP in 2013, said the group aims to control the feral cat population in Tuscaloosa County with a program that involves trapping the cats, spaying or neutering them and then releasing them.
“It’s better for the city, and it’s better for the cats,” Roberts said. “Cats who have been fixed aren’t as big of a problem.”
She said that euthanasia will kill a cat colony, but that will leave resources and room for another cat colony to take over. By conducting the trap-spay or neuter-release method, she said cats are less aggressive, less destructive and won’t reproduce. Instead, the sterilized cats use up the resources in an area, preventing a future colony from taking over.
Roberts estimates that at least 6,000 stray cats live in Tuscaloosa. During the past year and a half, TSNIP says it has trapped and fixed 443 cats. Local veterinarians have complied with TSNIP and given discounted rates for surgeries.
Roberts said she believes that, in the long run, the trap-spay or neuter-release program will prove to be better than euthanizing cats.
“It’s a very effective way to take care of stray cats,” Roberts said. “It’s cost-effective and it’s humane.”
TSNIP issues traps to volunteers so they can either canvas neighborhoods or answer phone calls that detail a cat colony’s location. Volunteers bait the cats with food, then a spring-triggered trap catches the felines. The following morning, the cats are brought to a veterinarian to be fixed, and a piece of their ear is cut to mark that they’ve been sterilized. After the surgery, the cats are released where they were found.
Bill Gootjes and Robin McCarthy have been volunteers for TSNIP since August and canvas neighborhoods together. He said he averages about five cats a week and has trapped 152 cats since starting.
“That’s just one person,” Gootjes said. “Imagine what others can do.”
McCarthy and Gootjes go out once a week to lay traps. Typically, it’s a three-day process from setting the trap, getting the cat, taking it to the veterinarian and releasing it. In order to work more efficiently, they work with another couple, splitting the work and allowing them to go out twice a week.
McCarthy said volunteering for TSNIP has been a rewarding experience. She said people have been helpful in letting them lay traps and welcoming their efforts.
“We hope this is the beginning of a no-kill city,” McCarthy said. “It’s not only rewarding because we know we’re saving the lives of cats … but we’ve also been able to meet people we would have never met otherwise.”
TSNIP has also paired with Davis-Emerson Middle School and Central High School to get the youth involved in civic outreach. A total of 25 students are involved in various projects to raise awareness for the organization and the animals’ plight.
“We believe a partnership is the only way to succeed,” said Jeff Parker, TSNIP’s education outreach director and a psychology professor at the University of Alabama.
On April 10, students from Central High School lined the entrance to the Ferguson Center at UA for the annual “Leave Us Memories, Not Your Pets” event.
The event featured posters, colorful papier-mache cats and Dawn, a dog from the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter.
Parker organized the event, which he said is designed to educate college students about the responsibilities of adopting a pet and the negative side effects of abandoning them.
Parker said a large portion of stray cats in Tuscaloosa come from college students who adopt a pet but then realize they can’t keep the commitment.
Twelve high school students stood by booths citing different risks animals succumb to when they are abandoned and how TSNIP’s efforts are shaping the community. According to the students’ research, an estimated 16 cats and dogs each day are euthanized in Tuscaloosa shelters, so less than 10 percent of animals in a shelter are adopted, while 90 percent of the animals don’t leave the shelter alive.
“It hurt me, and I was kind of sad to know they were putting down cats,” said Shaundasia Pinkston, a senior from Central High School who volunteered at the April 10 event. “People should care, because it will stop cats from being killed.”
Kristian Simmons, a senior at Central High School who also volunteered at the “Leave Us Your Memories, Not Your Pets” event, said she’s an animal lover and became passionate about TSNIP’s efforts after hearing how it helps the animals. She said that through volunteering with TSNIP, she’s learned how to talk to people and educate them on such an important topic.
“I feel like a lot of other people are animal lovers, and they should understand what hardships animals go through,” Simmons said. “What if that cat was part of your family?”
Some UA students who work with TSNIP teach the youth and help organize projects. Kayla Oglesby is a senior majoring in psychology who teaches the group at Davis-Emerson Middle School. She said at first the students didn’t seem interested in TSNIP until she explained the program and how they could help. Suddenly they lit up, she said, and those who sat in the back who were seemingly the least interested started talking first and raising their hands with ideas.
“There’s so much the youth can do as part of the community, and we’re not using them,” Oglesby said. “They’re more a teacher to you than you could ever be to them. I’ve seen why it’s important to get involved through their eyes.”
Both school groups are divided into smaller groups that focus on a specific project. Oglesby’s students are working on a presentation to give at their school’s assembly. Others are working on a video, art projects like the papier-mache cats and other presentations.
“Our main focus is giving back to the community in the best way we can,” Oglesby said. “There’s no telling what these kids can accomplish.”
Join Dr. Parker's students for a fun day at the Tuscaloosa Bark In The Park. Saturday April 11, 9-2 at Will Mays Dog Park. On All Fours will have a booth to talk with the public about the plight of abused and abandoned animals and how to manage feral cat populations through community Trap/Spay-Neuter/Return campaigns. You can find them at Booth 22. Come by to support them and all the work they have been doing this semester.
Join us Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 7:00 PM at the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Get involved and help decrease the feral cat population and unwanted kittens. Learn how to trap and return feral cats to their colony. Please join us in a training session, led by Dr. Lucy Roberts. Join our facebook event!
New to TSNIP? Fill out the form below and bring it with you to the trapping training session.
Do you need another excuse to foster a homeless pet?
Love the idea of fostering but fear the potential costs?
How about a tax deduction?
You read that correctly. Some of the expenses of fostering a pet for an adoption organization can be deducted as services rendered to a qualified 501(c)(3) organization. Things like pet food and supplies, veterinary bills, and even the paper towels you may need to clean up after your foster-furball can qualify as expenses for fostering a pet. If your foster operation is large enough you may be able to claim a portion of your home utilities as well. You can even deduct 14 cents per mile for trips made solely for the organization.
Click on the links below to learn more.
Foster Pet Expenses
Are Animal Fostering and Rescue Expenses Tax-Deductible?
Did You Know Certain Pet Foster Care Expenses Are Tax Deductible?
You may not think about keeping Fido safe for the day of romance. Here's why you may need to keep your pet at bay. Watch Video
We are thankful for the city of Tuscaloosa, the city of Northport and Tuscaloosa County's generous support of the Tuscaloosa Spay and Neuter Incentive Program. TSNIP, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, founded in 2013 with the mission of reducing the unwanted pet population in Tuscaloosa County through a variety of programs has had an extraordinary year. 2014 has seen the gentle capture, neuter and return of more than 200 cats to the Tuscaloosa area. The Feral Cat Program would not be possible without the contributions of local vets and the TSNIP volunteers. For more information about how established feral cat colonies reduce unwanted litters, please visit http://www.tsnip.org/
Posted: Jul 18, 2013 5:07 PM CDTUpdated: Jul 18, 2013 5:07 PM CDT
By Kelvin Reynolds - bio | email
TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) -One Tuscaloosa vet says as many as 6,000 feral cats make their home in Tuscaloosa, many of them living downtown where there's food and water.
In a month, the city could craft an ordinance allowing folks to come in and spay and neuter stray cats.
City attorneys are putting together a trap, neuter and return ordinance. It would allow people to come trap the cats, spay and neuter them and return them to the area where they found them without becoming their owner.
Feral cats cause all kinds of problems from being noisy, over-breeding and sometimes damaging property.
T-SNIP, which is short for Tuscaloosa Spay and Neuter Incentive Program, would coordinate efforts to help caretakers find the feral cats and make sure they're also fed and get their shots.
This new city ordinance allows folks to feed and take care of these cats without legally owning them. The city council's public safety committee will take this up next month.
Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.
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The Tuscaloosa Spay & Neuter Incentive Program, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, was founded in the spring of 2013 with the mission of reducing the unwanted pet population in Tuscaloosa County through a variety of programs.