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5 April 2010 Issue

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The Fiscal Impact of Ferals

Dear Friends,

If you can send your local Mayor, Governor, Senators, Animal Control officials, etc (anyone who you think would be compelled to act after reading it) the following link, it could very well convince them to stop murdering feral cats in your city, state, country, etc, and instead start saving them.

Please share this far and wide. This is a ground breaking study that I think will have a huge impact on things, what with money being the deciding factor in our materialistic society and all.

The Fiscal Impact of Ferals

March 19, 2010,
By Sandy Miller,
Best Friends staff writer

New calculator looks at the cost savings of trap/neuter/return programs

If you really want to get something done, recruit your friends to help you.

And that’s just what Best Friends Animal Society is doing by giving feral cat advocates the tools they need to show their local leaders how much of their taxpayers’ money they can save by implementing trap/neuter/return programs (TNR) in their communities.

Best Friends' senior legislative analyst Ledy VanKavage calls it “the Tom Sawyer approach.”

“It was a lot easier for him to get other people to paint the fence than to paint the fence himself,” VanKavage says.

Best Friends has unveiled its Trap, Neuter and Return Cost Savings Calculator, a tool that compares the costs of TNR with the costs of trapping and killing cats in cities, counties and states across the country. The study, commissioned by Best Friends and funded by a grant from PetSmart Charities, shows that TNR programs are much less expensive to implement than trap and kill policies.

Take California, for instance. The study, titled “The Fiscal Impact of Trap, Neuter and Return Policies in Controlling Feral Cat Populations in the United States,” conducted by the New York City-based John Dunham and Associates, estimates there are more than 70 million cats in the Golden State, and about 38.5 million of them are feral — or “community” cats. The study estimates that trap and kill programs cost the state $250 per cat (for trapping, enforcement, sheltering, food, supplies, laboratory tests and euthanizing), while TNR programs cost the state $220 per cat (for trapping, enforcement, neutering and spaying, physical exams and vaccinations). Discounted TNR programs cost the state just $100 per cat (for trapping and a packaged TNR procedure). If the state did away with trap and kill and replaced it with discounted TNR — in which veterinarians and community volunteers offer their services to keep costs down — it could save California taxpayers a whopping $5.58 billion a year.

In these tough economic times, cities, counties and states are looking for ways to trim costs. So there’s no better time than now for community cat advocates to approach their government leaders to let them know how much money TNR programs can save them. Now, more than ever, city councils, county commissioners and state legislators are paying close attention to dollar signs.

“Cities are laying off firefighters and animal control officers,” VanKavage says. “They’re looking for ways to save money and now is the time for feral cat people to organize.”

Nationwide, TNR results in a huge savings for taxpayers. There are about 168 million cats in the U.S., and about half those cats are community cats, according to the study. It costs about $16 billion to trap and kill community cats, while discounted TNR programs cost taxpayers about $7 billion a year, according to the study. Replacing trap and kill with discounted TNR could save American taxpayers almost $9 billion a year.

Crunching the numbers For John Dunham and Associates, counting up community cats and comparing the costs of trap and kill with TNR was no easy feat. The numbers were estimated by sampling a pool of reliable population data of community cats from four states, 12 cities and 13 counties in the U.S.

“There is very limited data on animals in this country,” says John Dunham, president and managing partner of the economic research firm. “I can find out more details on how much celery is grown in every part of this country than I can find on feral cats.”

Dunham found it was especially difficult to find data on community cats in small towns operating on shoestring budgets.

“Smaller communities are worried about making sure the streetlight works,” Dunham says.

In most American communities, homeless cats are a familiar sight. For more than 10,000 years, community cats have lived beside humans. With the growing population of community cats, there has been much policy debate on how to handle the situation. Some argue for eradication, but this doesn’t curb population growth because un-spayed and un-neutered cats will simply take their place and continue to produce more cats. The humane solution is TNR, a cost-efficient, no-kill means of reducing community cat populations.

When cats end up in shelters, they rarely make it out alive. Seventy-two percent of cats who end up in shelters are killed, and 80 percent of those cats are deemed to be feral, according to Focus on Felines, one of four Best Friends campaigns aimed at reaching the goal of No More Homeless Pets. Only 10 percent to 20 percent of pet cats are adopted from shelters, and only 2 percent to 5 percent of lost cats are reunited with their owners.

“Cats make up the majority of animals euthanized in shelters,” says Shelly Kotter, campaign specialist for Focus on Felines. “TNR is one of the main components to a successful no-kill movement. This calculator is an awesome tool to help cities embrace TNR. It’s not only the most humane thing, it’s the most economically sound thing.”


To give you an example of what to say to local officials, when presenting them with this link, here is part of a letter I sent my Mayor:

Dear Mayor Bartlett,

Recently, I emailed you, asking you to make Tulsa a No Kill city. The time to become No Kill is long overdue. The extremely insufficient "improvements" in the system notwithstanding, Tulsa still murders about 80% of all cats who come into the shelter, and roughly 70% of dogs who come into the shelter. This is intolerable, and it is proof of a poor system full of flaws, and a system that anyone with a conscience, such as yourself, should feel compelled to strive to change.


This is a win-win situation, Mayor.

1. The cats win, because they get to live. 2. Tulsans win, because we save a great deal of money that can be used to help our city's horrible crime, economic, roadway, etc, situations.

It is a no-brainer, Mayor. A smart man like yourself will easily see how right this is, and how much common sense and financial sense, not to mention compassionate sense, it makes.

Please view the link here:

You may need to copy and paste the link.

I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you read, and I hope that it will convince you to stop the 'shelter' from murdering cats, and force them to start saving them.

Everybody will win, especially the cats, whose lives hang in the balance.

Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent issue, Mayor Bartlett.

I wish you all the best, sir.

Matthew DeLuca

It is mind boggling how much money can be saved by using TNR instead of "Kill 'em and forget 'em" and since politicians are always looking for ways to save a buck, this may be all the inspiration they need.

Take care,

Contributor: Mathew DeLuca
Source: Best Friends Animal Society .

Frequently Asked Questions About Helping Feral Cats

Frequently Asked Questions About Helping Feral Cats

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