The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky
1.1. Key Terminology
- Feral cats: Generally used to describe unowned, free-roaming cats, especially those who are not socialized to humans either because they have never had human contact or because they have, over time, reverted to a “wilder” state in the absence of such human contact.
- Stray cats: Generally used to describe owned cats (i.e., pets) who have become lost or displaced from their homes or property. Shelters generally use the term more broadly, considering cats admitted to be “strays” if they have no known owner and lack discernible identification (i.e., collar and tags, or traceable microchip).
- Community cats: Broadly used to describe unowned, free-roaming cats regardless of their sociability. The term is becoming more popular in part because of its implicit acknowledgment that cats are a commensal species and are highly valued by many residents.
- Trap-neuter-return (TNR): A non-lethal method for managing community cats whereby cats are humanely trapped, surgically sterilized, and returned to their original location. TNR programs often vaccinate cats against rabies as well (Figure 1).
- Return-to-field (RTF): Essentially TNR for cats brought into an animal shelter, either by residents or a shelter’s field services staff, as “strays” lacking identification (i.e., collar/tags or traceable microchip). Rather than house these cats only to kill most of them following the designated “stray hold” period, shelters sterilize, vaccinate, and return them to the outdoor location where the cats were living. Also sometimes called shelter-neuter-return, or SNR (Figure 1).
- Community Cat Program (CCP): The name given to shelter-based programs in which RTF and TNR efforts were carefully integrated in an attempt to maximize lifesaving and population reduction.
- Sterilization: Various terms are used to indicate the surgical sterilization of cats (e.g., spay, neuter). Here, we are using the term sterilization broadly to indicate the removal of the reproductive organs in both male (testicles) and female (ovaries) cats.
- Alley Cat Advocates (ACA): A private non-profit organization located in Louisville, KY, that provides no-cost TNR services to residents of the Louisville Metro area.
- Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS): The municipal animal shelter serving residents of the Louisville Metro area.
- Kentucky Humane Society (KHS): A private non-profit organization located in Louisville, KY, that provides a range of services (e.g., low-cost sterilization of pets and adoption of pets) mostly to residents of the Louisville Metro area.
- Live-release Rate (LRR): A metric commonly used to describe animal shelter outcomes, defined as live outcomes divided by all outcomes except owner-requested euthanasia and animals who died or were lost while in the shelter’s care, represented as a percentage.
- Return to Owner (RTO): The ratio of animals reunited with their owners to total shelter intake, represented as a percentage.
- Length of Stay (LOS): The amount of time (usually expressed in days, as an average) between an animal’s admission to a shelter and their eventual outcome.
- Euthanasia Rate: The ratio of the number of cats euthanized for reasons other than owner request to the total number of feline intakes over a given period of time, represented as a percentage.
1.2. Site Description and Background Information
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Data Collection
2.2. Data Analysis
3.1. Enrollment and Surgeries
3.2. Impact on Shelter Metrics
4.1. Reductions in Euthanasia
4.2. Reductions in Stray Intake
4.3. Other Shelter Metrics of Interest
4.4. Key Differences in Jefferson County’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and Return-to-Field (RTF) Programs
5. Study Limitations
Conflicts of Interest
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|Total feline intake||4727||3703||3995||3226||3051||2897||2194||2776||2706|
|% of strays returned||0.0||13.7||28.0||26.5||34.3||35.3||14.1||40.3||44.9|
|To rescue †||661||595||704||1008||624||562||572||427||191|
|Died in care||144||92||60||45||45||72||48||33||54|
|Feline LRR (%)||38.0||53.7||63.0||83.2||83.8||86.7||91.7||94.4||94.1|
|Jefferson County, KY||3.5||2.2||1.9||0.7||0.6||0.5||0.3||0.2||0.2||4.0|
|San José, CA||7.2||5.5||3.2||2.4||2.2||1.6||2.7|
|San Antonio, TX||2.4||1.7||0.7||0.4||2.4|
|Jefferson County, KY||6.3||4.9||5.3||4.2||4.0||3.8||2.8||3.6||3.5||4.0|
|San José, CA||10.2||9.1||8.2||7.2||7.6||7.0||2.7|
|San Antonio, TX||3.8||5.6||3.6||3.5||2.4|
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Spehar, D.D.; Wolf, P.J. The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Animals 2020, 10, 1395. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081395
Spehar DD, Wolf PJ. The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Animals. 2020; 10(8):1395. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081395Chicago/Turabian Style
Spehar, Daniel D., and Peter J. Wolf. 2020. "The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky" Animals 10, no. 8: 1395. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081395