By Amanda Ravenstein
Junction City Union
At the city commissioners meeting July 21, Vanessa Gray, director at the Junction City Geary County Animal Shelter presented a plan to start a program that will trap feral cats, perform spay or neuter and release the animal back where they were picked up.
“It is a basically a humane way to make sure that cats in our environment are spayed and neutered, vaccinated and healthy,” she said.
She said that the cats are put under anesthesia when they are brought in to perform all of the treatments because of the animals being considered as wild animals and not having contact with people it will make them more susceptible to stress and injury if they were not sedated.
Gray said with the program it would limit shelter staff from handling the animals and getting bitten or scratched when they have been picked up as strays.
“Another issue with stray cats like these full feral cats is they carry unlimited amount of potential diseases and we can barely handle them,” she said. “So. if we can’t handle them and do their physical exams or vaccinate them. They’re staying in our shelter unvaccinated and potentially spreading illnesses.”
She said the program will also help with the overcrowding problems at the shelter because they wouldn’t have to hold the animals for extended times like they would for cats being put up for adoption.
“A TNR would be they’d come in the day of their surgery, and then they’d be able to leave the same day,” she said.
Gray said the program will also benefit the community because it can limit the amount of complaint calls received for attended kittens or cats in the streets.
“As for them running around in the street,” she said. “Typically, when you spay and neuter them, they are not roaming as much to mate or find food if they’re secluded into one colony, that you keep them in that area.”
She said the cost for the program is very low due to them having access to the K-State mobile vet unit that provides spay and neuters for free to the shelter. The prices for vaccines can range from $2 to $3 for each cat.
As far as the trapping equipment, Gray said they have four traps in use in Milford, but she thinks Junction City would need about 10 traps and those cost about $57 per trap.
“Just because we need to do a lot more,” she said. “The city of Milford is a lot smaller, so we don’t have as big of an issue as we do here in Junction.”
She said she has had multiple people contact her about volunteering for the program.
“We’ve had a ton of people that have said that they would love to get involved with something like this,” she said. “So, I don’t see an issue finding people that would be willing to help.”
Gray said she hopes that within two years there will be a reduced number of feral cats in the city.
“It just depends on how many cats we have to work with in the environment,” she said. “I think once we get started, we’re going to figure that out. Right now, it’s up in the air because I’m not sure exactly how big of a problem we have down in these hotspot areas.”
City commissioners saw no problems in the program and gave the go ahead to move forward.