Feral Cats Saved in Florida

Jacksonville uses a trap-neuter-return program to control feral populations.

Posted: Nov. 24, 2008, 3 a.m. EST

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Feral cats saved in Florida
Feral Freedom in Jacksonville, Fla.,is a trap-neuter-return program the city developed with animal-welfare groups.
Jacksonville, Fla., has been working with Best Friends Animal Society, First Coast No More Homeless Pets and the Jacksonville Humane Society to control feral cat populations. The program, called Feral Freedom, is a trap-neuter-return program, in which it sterilizes all cats brought in by the city’s animal control professionals, then releases them back to the neighborhoods where they were found.

The cats also receive vaccinations, microchips, treatment for fleas and an ear tip for future identification. The program is a first for the city, but one that is working, according to all parties involved.

“Whether it is through innovative programs like Feral Freedom or other efforts to bolster adoptions through strategic partnerships such as the one with the Jacksonville Humane Society, we are always looking for ways to increase the number of live releases from our shelter,” said Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi, director of Jacksonville’s Environmental and Compliance Dept. “I believe this new program is another step in the right direction toward accomplishing that goal.”

Rick DuCharme, founder of First Coast NMHP, said the program will save close to 4,000 cats this year. “It will bring us all together and teach us all how to work together better,” he added.

Best Friends Animal Society has pledged to support Feral Freedom throughout 2009. “Our goal is to create a paradigm shift in the way society relates to community cats,” said Paul Berry, Best Friends’ chief executive officer. “These cats are not nuisances to be destroyed. They are part of the fabric of our communities. The Feral Freedom program is a home run for Jacksonville and, as a model program, could change the way that community cats are treated throughout the country.”

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Reader Comments

clair    jacksonville, FL

5/27/2010 9:11:53 PM

I'm sorry. I think this is a terrible idea. This proposition was presented to me by an Animal control person.....My questions, that he could not answer was......If you bring the cat back...Who feeds it? Who takes care of the yearly vaccinations? If there is no one to do this then they become disease carriers and prey on wildlife. Not a fan of this idea, at all.

Feral Mamma    Jacksonville, FL

10/7/2009 6:19:21 PM

What do you do when a propety owner tells you that plan on doing a STARVE-OUT, that you can no longer go on their property to feed the cats anymore? Allot of the cats depend on the colony caretaker for their food, water and to get them fixed and now she is being chased off and threats made to her and then a police officer telling her she will go to jail if she is caught on the property again feeding the cats, this is a public doctors office but is also considered private property since one of the doctors happen to own the property and more then likely hates cats..And, then when we try to get help no one wants to get involved they state they offer a service to fix animals but not to get involved in the politics.. Wow.. Sad

Veronica    Garner, NC

8/19/2009 6:47:20 PM

As a proponent of TNR -I think this is fantastic. This is a step in the right direction for feral cat population control and a better utilization of tax dollar than the past methods of trap and kill.

Sam    Miami, FL

4/27/2009 1:37:09 PM

you may have solved the growth population problem, but what about the problem of cats killing wildlife, you release them and they still go on killing wildlife, no cats should be allowed outside

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