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Response to Wolf et al.: Furthering Debate over the Suitability of Trap-Neuter-Return for Stray Cat Management
Article

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
Independent Researcher, 4758 Ridge Road, #409, Cleveland, OH 44144, USA
2
Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1395; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081395
Received: 10 July 2020 / Accepted: 10 August 2020 / Published: 11 August 2020
Nearly three-quarters of a million cats and dogs were euthanized at animal shelters in the United States in 2018. This total represents a decline of more than 90% in such deaths at USA shelters since the early 1970s. The majority of animals euthanized in shelters today are free-roaming feral and stray cats. Two new approaches to the management of free-roaming cats—return-to-field (RTF) and targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR)—have grown in use over the past decade and have recently been associated with significant reductions in shelter euthanasia and intake. RTF programs are similar to TNR programs in that they entail the sterilization, vaccination, and return of cats; however, RTF programs are shelter based rather than community based. RTF programs provide live outcomes for community cats otherwise at high risk of euthanasia after shelter admission. The purpose of the present study was to examine changes in feline euthanasia and intake, as well as additional shelter metrics, at a municipal animal shelter in Jefferson County, KY, USA, after an RTF program was added to an ongoing community-based TNR program. The euthanasia of cats at Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) declined by 94.1% and feline admissions dropped by 42.8% after a combined total of 24,697 cats were trapped, sterilized, vaccinated and returned over an eight-year period. The results of the present study are consistent with previous research and illustrate the amenability of RTF and TNR programs to customization based upon the needs and resources of a given community.
The number of cats and dogs impounded and euthanized at animal shelters in the USA has declined dramatically in recent decades. The Humane Society of the United States reported that in 1973 an estimated 13.5 million cats and dogs were euthanized nationwide; according to Best Friends Animal Society, in 2018 that number had been reduced to approximately 733,000. A disproportionate number of animals euthanized at shelters today are free-roaming feral and stray cats, who most often face euthanasia due to their temperament or a lack of shelter space. Over the past decade, two new management tactics—return-to-field (RTF) and targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR)—have exhibited the capacity to contribute to significant reductions in feline euthanasia and intake. The present study examines changes in feline euthanasia and intake, as well as impacts on additional metrics, at a municipal animal shelter in Jefferson County, KY, USA, after an RTF program was added to an ongoing community-based TNR program. A combined total of 24,697 cats were trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, and returned over 8 years as part of the concurrent RTF and TNR programs. Feline euthanasia at Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) declined by 94.1% and feline intake dropped by 42.8%; the live-release rate (LRR) increased by 147.6% due primarily to reductions in both intake and euthanasia. The results of the present study corroborate prior research on the effectiveness of combining RTF and TNR and exemplify the flexibility available to communities in configuring such programs to align with their particular needs and resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: return-to-field (RTF); trap-neuter-return (TNR); targeted TNR; community cats; stray cats; feral cats; urban free-roaming cats; animal sheltering; feline intake; feline euthanasia return-to-field (RTF); trap-neuter-return (TNR); targeted TNR; community cats; stray cats; feral cats; urban free-roaming cats; animal sheltering; feline intake; feline euthanasia
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MDPI and ACS Style

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

AMA Style

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/ani10081395

Chicago/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

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