DBCHS’s Community Cat Program Saves Lives

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

Cats made up 90% of shelter deaths in Kentucky last year, according to a report released by Best Friends Animal Society on June 21, 2022.

In a press release, Best Friends said the deaths were primarily outdoor community cats in townships with barriers to trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) programming. TNVR is the process by which cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, and returned to their original location.

The press release noted that the TNVR approach has proved to be highly successful in Boyle County, Ashland City, and Hardin County, reducing shelter cat deaths and increasing public health protections.

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“Implementing current programs like the community cat program Danville-Boyle County Humane Society has, is how shelters can make the best use of limited resources and space while providing the community current services in the best interest of their human and animal populations,” said Angela Rovetto, Senior Strategist, East Region, Best Friends Animal Society.

In the last few years, DBCHS and its partner veterinarians have spayed/neutered and vaccinated thousands of community cats in Boyle County at low or no cost to their caretakers.

“Providing spay or neuter surgery and vaccinations for healthy outdoor cats vastly improves the life of the community cat. Sterilized animals no longer feel the need to fight, spray, or wander far from home to find a mate,” said Kari Kuh, Executive Director of the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society. “It helps curb the population of free-roaming cats and contributes to herd immunity, which benefits everyone.”

In addition,TNVR drastically reduces shelter euthanasia. DBCHS has seen a dramatic increase in its lifesaving rate since launching a TNVR program for community cats. In 2018, the shelter euthanized more than 500 cats due to overcrowding, illness, or lack of available homes. After DBCHS implemented its community cat program in 2019, fewer than 60 cats were euthanized in 2020 and 2021 combined.

Community cat programming is endorsed by other leading national animal welfare organizations, including the National Animal Care and Control Association, Million Pet Challenge, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, American Pets Alive!, and more.

To strengthen its community cat programming, DBCHS is currently participating in a mentorship program under guidance from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other experts in cat protection. DBCHS was one of two organizations nationwide chosen for the Shelter Ally Mentorship.

The mentorship focuses on developing comprehensive and humane support for community cats in and out of the shelter, ensuring a strategic and holistic approach to managing dynamic populations of cats in the county.

DBCHS and HSUS will be hosting a symposium in November to share what staff and volunteers have learned in the mentorship program. The event will be free and DBCHS invites area rescue organizations, nearby county animal shelters, and individuals interested in the health and wellbeing of cats in our region to attend. DBCHS will release more information soon.

Until then, DBCHS encourages Boyle County residents to take advantage of the Community Cat Program. Email dbchs@bellsouth.net to make an appointment to get outdoor community cats sterilized and vaccinated for free.

About DBCHS: The Danville-Boyle County Humane Society is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) established in 1972 that promotes the humane treatment of animals through compassionate care, engagement, and support.