The recent letter from Carol Stuart regarding the trap/neuter/release program begun by the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society highlights a very serious problem in our area.
We have a very large number of stray cats in Blair County. I agree with many points she raised.
On average, the CPHS takes in more than 3,000 cats annually. And this does not even include the thousands of strays that roam our area and never reach our shelter.
It's important to know a few facts about the CPHS.
The CPHS does not exist as a requirement of any federal law, state statute or local ordinance.
It was created many decades ago by many "well-intentioned" individuals. Over those decades, hundreds of thousands of animals in need have been helped and were given hope.
The CPHS is "self-funded." Every dollar, every dime we need must be raised by us. We get no government assistance, no tax revenue, no earmarks and no bailouts.
We receive no funding from any national chapter. When you see emotionally charged commercials, did you know that those organizations have never operated a shelter and do not fund local organizations such as ours?
And each year the CPHS operates at a deficit.
That being said, it would be magnificent if we could simply round up the thousands of stray cats in our area, spay and neuter them, give them shelter, food and medical care. The money that would be needed to do that would be staggering, and we simply do not have it.
So we turn to other solutions such as the trap/spay/neuter /release program as a means to ease the magnitude of the situation.
Is it ideal? Far from it. Do we believe it will decrease the frequency of these unfortunate instances? Yes, we do.
It's not a perfect solution, but it's so much better than allowing this population to multiply many more times and in a very short period of time.
When we receive kittens at the shelter, they come in boxes, hundreds of boxes. Can you picture this scenario?
An effective spay/neuter program along with public education and responsible pet ownership are the keys to keeping these numbers low. Effective legislation, which currently is non-existent, is also needed.
There is no basis to the claim that this type of program will have no positive impact on the magnitude of this problem.
One female cat and her offspring left unchecked can produce thousands of kittens. To say that "trap/neuter/release has not been shown to reduce the overall cat population" is a highly inaccurate and, quite frankly, reckless statement.
We have not kidded ourselves into believing that we are giving these spayed/neutered cats a second chance, as Stuart suggests. But we do believe that this program is a great start toward reducing these numbers.
If we can go from hundreds of boxes of kittens to just a few, I do believe we can all "feel good."
Vanevenhoven is the board president of the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society.