TNR Trap-Neuter-Release – What does that mean?



When the Effingham County Animal Shelter decided to partner up with Georgiana Steese and HOPE to create the Barn Cat program it changed things at the shelter in a great way. It helped so many unwanted feral cats get homes and put them to work by helping the land owners with rodent issues. The shelter had a grant that helped fund this for about 6 months. This proved to be a great thing helping over 150 cats get new homes and not have to be euthanized as what had been done in the past with ferals.

That said the money ran out and HOPE and Georgiana Steese were left with fundraising to meet the needs of the shelter to take the cats , get them fixed, get shots to prepare them for their new job. This meant about $1200 in donations a month to make it happen. With all efforts it is making it but the shelter needs more support from the community as well as the county. The community has asked for better ways, they have asked to help the cats, they have asked to stop euthanizing. Well now is your chance to help make that happen.

Even though we call it the Barn Cat Program it truly is a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program. So what exactly does TNR mean to the average person:

  • It stabilizes feral cat colonies
  • Improves cats’ lives
  • Answers the needs of the community
  • Protects cats’ lives
  • And it works – as other methods just do not.

It stabilizes feral cat colonies as the colonies diminish over time. A 11-year study conducted by the University of Florida showed a decline in the number of cats by 66%, but no new kittens were born after the first four years. Another study done by the university of Texas A&M as they neutered 123 cats in the first year and no new kittens were found the following year. Also from that study they found 20% of the cats trapped were actually socialized and got adopted out to families.

It improves their lives by creating safer communities and promote public health by reducing the number of unvaccinated cats. TNR programs improve the lives of free-roaming cats. When males are neutered, they are no longer compelled to maintain a large territory or fight over mates, and females are no longer forced to endure the physical and mental demands of giving birth and fending for their young. And by sterilizing community cats it reduces or even eliminates the behaviors that can lead to nuisance complaints.(1)

TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population, basically no new kittens. Also due to not expressing mating behaviors they become better neighbors. They are quieter and more tolerable. It also helps the community see the shelter in a different light of one to be helping with a solution and not to just eradicate it. It provides opportunity for others that would have never asked the shelter for help due to being afraid of the cat being euthanized, will now ask for help as they know the shelter is helping the situation. It puts the shelter in a better light with the community.

It does tremendously helps save lives as in the past and with lots of shelters there is no program in place. This means ferals are destroyed. Did you know the number one cause of death for cats in American is being killed at a shelter. As a nation, over 70% of cats are euthanized and almost 100% of ferals are euthanized. There are just way too many cats that come in during a week and not enough homes. There is no space for them, and ferals are unadoptable due to lack of human contact. Therefore, TNR helps the cats. It allows them to live out their lives where they feel safe.

TNR works where other methods have failed. In the past they just caught and killed, this lead to taxpayers paying for trapping, holding, feeding, and euthanizing. This adds up when you get so many and no end in sight. Because of this biological certainty, trapping and removing cats from a given area does little more than ensure that the cat population will rebound to its original level, necessitating additional trapping and killing. (1) Adoption does not work well as most shelters do not have the time nor space to socialize the cats to live in a home as a typical house cat.

There are plenty of places that have tried TNR and are doing very well with it. There are major cities like Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Austin, Jacksonville, Topeka, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cook County, IL. Colleges and Universities have joined in including Stanford, Texas A&M, North Carolina State, and the University of Florida to name a few. Businesses are even joining in the efforts like Disneyland and the Portland’s professional soccer stadium. There are more than 260 registered nonprofit cat organizations nationwide. (2) So why not our county to? Because we have no provisions in place for it. We need to!

TNR does reduce shelter admissions and operating costs. Also, fewer community cats in shelters increases shelter adoption rates, as more cage space opens up for adoptable cats. Another beneficial component of TNR is the positive impact these programs have on animal control officers and shelter workers. Job satisfaction among these workers increases tremendously when the work does not involve the unnecessary killing of healthy animals for the purpose of convenience. This increased job satisfaction results in less employee turnover and an overall improved public image of the shelter. The reduction in killing and animal admissions also provides more time for staff and volunteers to care for the animals in the shelter and give personal attention to potential adopters.(1)

The cost savings associated with TNR are location-specific and accurate estimates involve taking into account numerous variables. The immediate savings that many communities experience are a result of tapping into volunteer support and other resources (e.g., private donations) that come from implementing a humane method of managing community cats. Cost savings fluctuate based on the type of TNR program implemented, the extent of animal control involvement, the volunteer base available, and the community’s overall support of TNR. The point, however, is that over time, through attrition and sterilization efforts, fewer cats will be breeding and contributing to the population growth. And fewer animals to contend with inevitably means a decrease in the demand on taxpayer dollars.(1)

Some ask, what are the advantages of adopting a TNR ordinance? An ordinance grants credibility to any TNR program. So basically when crafted properly, a TNR ordinance establishes reasonable standards and defines duties for individuals in implementing a community cat program. This type of legislation grants credibility to TNR, promotes community involvement, and encourages community cat caregiver cooperation. (1)

Equally important, a well-crafted ordinance will insulate community cats from feeding bans, pet limits or other punitive laws that often impede the progress of sterilization efforts and public health protection. In addition, adopting a TNR ordinance can make grant funding more available, since this legal assurance speaks volumes about the level of community support and involvement. (1)

If you would like to speak to your local County Commissioner about this and to ask them to be on board like you are for a TNR program please do. Please contact before Dec 3rd, as there will be a meeting on Dec 4th to go over this possible program. But we need your help to show the Commissioners that this a real issue and we need this program to ensure more lives are saved and the problem is managed. All the County Commissioners are listed below with contact information for your convenience.

Wesley Corbitt, Chairman At Large

Forrest Floyd, District 1

Roger Burdette, District 2

Jamie Deloach, District 3

Reggie Loper, District 4

Phil Keiffer, District 5

Please take a moment to contact all of these Commissioners as every little bit helps with our efforts. If they hear from the community it does so much more than just a few voices from us! They need to know how you feel.