Local SPCA Euthuanizes at High Rates

By: Lauren Cassel, 1L
Junior Editor

Last year, 1,129 cats passed through the doors of the Rockbridge County SPCA. Of these cats, 770 were euthanized.

Spyce Girl is an 8-9 month old brown tabby and white shorthair that is currently avaliable for adoption at the Rockbridge SPCA. Totally not trying to guilt you. | Source: http://rockbridgespca.net

Spyce Girl is an 8-9 month old brown tabby and white shorthair that is currently
avaliable for adoption at the Rockbridge SPCA. Totally not trying to guilt you. | Source: http://rockbridgespca.net

For comparison, of the 543 dogs brought to the facility, only 34 were euthanized. In an interview with a reporter from WMRA news, the executive director of the Rockbridge SPCA, Tara Rodi, said of the massive amount of euthanasia, “When you get 200 cats in one month, that’s a lot. We get the feral cats in.  They’re not in the best shape because no one is taking care of them. They might have three teeth in their head, or they’ve got a horrible ring worm situation. It’s never easy. It’s not a fun part of the job.”

SPCAs across the country are plagued by overcrowding and strained  nances. In response to the Shelter Reports that have been released from the Rockbridge SPCA, Cats Unlimited and the Rockbridge Animal Alliance are doubling efforts to provided trap, neuter, and release (TNR) services.

Cats reproduce almost as quickly as rabbits, and just a few strays can turn into a colony of feral cats in less than one year. A mature female cat can have two to three litters of about three to five kittens each in one year, yielding upwards of fifteen kittens a year, which reach reproductive age in just five to seven months. TNR has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of breaking this cycle and reducing feral cat populations.

Yet TNR hasn’t been without its issues as well. In Virginia, there were serious questions as to whether the practice was legal. Critics of the program cited Virginia Code §3.2 6500, saying that the Code’s definition of abandonment made it illegal because the organizations technically assume ownership of the animals, albeit temporarily and for the implementation of spay and neuter services.  Therefore, in releasing the cats, critics felt the programs actually violated the prohibition of animal abandonment. 

This issue was later clarified in 2013 by Virginia’s Attorney General, who stated that “persons who capture feral cats while acting as agents of or in conjunction with a locality as part of its trap and sterilize program are companion animal  nders and do not become the de facto or de jure owners of such cats.”

Virginia animal shelters with aggressive TNR programs have significantly lower euthanasia rates. For instance, the Lynchburg Humane Society provides free spay and neuter services for every feral or stray cat brought to them. As a result, Lynchburg’s euthanasia rate for cats is 3.4 percent, significantly lower than the Rockbridge’s. While the Rockbridge SPCA does not provide equivalent services yet, local organizations like the Rockbridge Animal Alliance and Cats Unlimited do provide low-cost spay and neuter services. For thirty dollars, Cats Unlimited will spay or neuter a cat, vaccinate for rabies, and treat it for parasites including fleas.

Moving forward, the largest obstacle in reducing cat euthanasia rates is lack of funding. Just this year, Cats Unlimited and the Rockbridge Animal Alliance received a Washington & Lee University Community Grant to help fund these services. Although this funding is extraordinarily helpful, it is also finite. Without sustained funding for low or no cost spay and neuter, feral colonies will continue to grow and so will the euthanasia rates at the Rockbridge SPCA.

If you would like to assist, Cats Unlimited is always looking for donations and volunteers. Volunteers can help in a variety of ways including fostering cats and kittens, transporting cats and supplies, and organizing fundraisers. Cats Unlimited also participates in the Kroger’s Community Rewards program. To participate in the rewards program, you can register your Kroger Rewards card on krogercommunityrewards.com, select Cats Unlimited, and a percentage of your purchases will be given to Cats Unlimited to help provide low cost spay and neuter in the Rockbridge area.

Categories: News
Tags: Lexington, News