Responding to a reader

Mike Dailey, when you dropped those very old articles on my doorstep, I wish you had knocked. I would have gladly and proudly explained our TNR program to you.

First: Trap, Neutered, Return is nothing new. Alley Cat Allies has been successfully promoting the program for over 20 years. While the National Audubon Society and Alley Cat Allies may have had disagreements in the past, very few of them remain unresolved. However our concern is on a local level.

The Humane Society of Harlingen has a very successful Trap, Neuter, Return or Relocate program.

When a person comes into the shelter to tell us they have a problem with stray cats, we get signed permission to trap on their property.

Once a cat is trapped, we test it for FIV, Feline Leukemia, and Heart Worms. All positive cats are put to sleep. All negative cats are vaccinated, spayed or neutered and ear tipped to identify them as fixed cats. The cats are micro-chipped to that area in case they are trapped again.

Only a reasonable number of cats are returned to the area where they were trapped at.

My trapper, William Van Coppenolle, and I have spent countless hours trapping cats in the middle of the night. A few months ago in a three block radius on South G and F Streets we trapped over 70 cats.

Because we cannot return 70 cats back to that area, most of them were relocated to one of our very successful barn programs.

I agree with you that ideally all owned cats should be kept indoors; owned being the operative word.

The cats we are trapping are unowned cats, breeding at will. Since Memorial Day last year we have trapped over 350 cats in Harlingen alone. In addition, we have trapped 95 cats in Port Mansfield and 68 cats in Raymondville. There is a national formula that says one cat plus one cat equals 420,000 cats over time.

Let’s put this on the lowest level possible and say that each cat trapped only had one litter of four before being trapped. Exponentially that still equals thousands and thousands of cats that will not be born. I share your concern of the deaths of birds and bats from feral cats. However building collisions also cause a large number of bird deaths. It is estimated that wind turbines now kill over 573,000 birds a year. As more and more wind turbines are built, they will have an increasing impact on bird deaths.

Feral cats are not the biggest threat to bird life anymore.

I am not the CEO of the Humane Society of Harlingen; I am the Board President. As you stated, this is an unpaid position; however my reward comes from the results we are obtaining.

One of my most rewarding programs is educating the public on the need for spay and neuter. Remember, I met you when I found your dog Paco who was not neutered and running at large.

I spent five years trying to get you to neuter him. Unfortunately Paco died, however I was so proud of you when you had Paco 2 neutered. I am also very proud to say that over the last four years are shelters’ intake is down by 3,000 animals.

Pat Turman-White President, Humane Society of Harlingen