TAMPA — A veterinarian from the University of Florida congratulated Hillsborough County commissioners today for passing a program that involves trapping feral cats, vaccinating and neutering them, then releasing them back into their former neighborhoods.
Dr. Cynda Crawford said so-called “community cat programs” are the most progressive steps local governments can take to save cats’ lives.
“It’s turned around live-release rates in shelters from 10 percent to 80 percent or greater,” Crawford said.
The community cat program, also known as trap, neuter and release, has been a contentious issue in Hillsborough and other communities across the nation. Many veterinarians here opposed the program, saying it would spread disease to humans.
A final vote to approve the ordinance was held in December.
Dexter Barge, interim director of the county’s Animal Services, said the agency has made improvements in its website and will soon roll out a new marketing program with help from local businesses.
Crawford said marketing plans that make animal shelters more visible also correspond with higher rates of animals leaving the shelters alive.
“It will put this shelter on the community radar,” Crawford said. “It will elevate its status as a place where people can come and get a good, quality pet, other than shopping online or at a pet store.”