FOLEY - When driving around Foley neighborhoods and side streets, many citizens can all agree on seeing one common thing: feral cats roaming through the city. While no estimate on exactly how many …
FOLEY - When driving around Foley neighborhoods and side streets, many citizens can all agree on seeing one common thing: feral cats roaming through the city. While no estimate on exactly how many stray and feral cats call Foley home exists, there is no doubt that the city has a high population of area cat colonies. For a long time no coordinated efforts were in place to assist with the problem, leading many citizens to call the Foley Police Department when cat colonies near them grew too big or the felines wandered into yards.
Now with the help of Orange Beach Animal Care and Control Program and Gulf Shores Animal Care and Control Program, Foley has a TNR program of its own helping citizens and cats in the community. The program is being endorsed by both the Foley Police Department and the city council, which donated $4,000 towards the group’s startup efforts.
“The Foley Animal Care and Control Program has had a few meetings already, and we are so happy they’re here and look forward to working with this great group of volunteers,” said Foley Police Chief David Wilson. “They have a lot of contacts, they have a passion for helping with the animals, and we need help. Since forming they have already helped us by mitigating a situation that we’ve been dealing with for a while now.”
Steve Solomon is an active leader with the FACCP, and agreed to help form the group after being approached by a neighbor. Solomon states he and his family are animal lovers and he embraced the chance to help the kitties of Foley in a humane way.
“The thing is that euthanizing cats doesn’t work, and it’s not what the majority of the community wants,” Solomon said. “Everyone we’ve helped so far has told us that they don’t want the cats hurt, and our program doesn’t harm them.”
The way TNR programs operate is by first trapping feral and stray cats, bringing them in to local vets to be spayed or neutered, have their ear clipped, be microchipped and receive shots, and then releasing them back to the location they were first caught where they’re able to live out their lives in a colony that is no longer growing, while keeping the rodent population controlled. FACCP is following other TNR programs and building feeding stations to be set up beside cat colonies.
After being in operation for one month, FACCP has already received approximately 500 calls and emails from citizens concerning feral cats and has over 40 volunteers. They are working with five local vets towards the TNR efforts, and Solomon hopes to eventually spay and neuter 25 cats a week if possible. The group plans to begin in a central location and work outwards to help mitigate the overpopulation.
“With a program like this then it keeps our police department from having to catch stray cats, and I’d rather them be doing other things,” said councilmember Ralph Hellmich. “We all know we’ve got a problem with animal overpopulation, and somebody has got to address it.”
City Administrator Mike Thompson agreed the program was important to the city, and supported the council’s decision to donate to the group.
“This is not a one-time deal, this is something that I think we really need to support as an ongoing effort,” Thompson said. “The problem is not going away on its own, but we can minimize it over time.”
The city’s donation will help with the purchasing of traps and the training of trappers, and FACCP plans to host fundraisers in the future to further efforts. To learn more about the group, find information on meeting dates and location, or to donate, check out Foley Animal Care and Control Program on Facebook.