FOLEY - The Orange Beach Animal Care and Control Program (OBACCP) was organized two years ago to help with the stray and feral cat population in Orange Beach, and since initiation of its …
FOLEY - The Orange Beach Animal Care and Control Program (OBACCP) was organized two years ago to help with the stray and feral cat population in Orange Beach, and since initiation of its Trap/Neuter/Return program, the group has seen a decrease in feral cat population in their community. Since formation, the OBACCP has worked with Gulf Shores to establish their own rescue group with a T/N/R program, but there’s still one more stop in their plans to establish groups throughout southern Baldwin County: Foley.
Two of OBACCP’s top trappers, Connie Brown and Denise Becker, have gotten called to the Foley area more than once to help with T/N/R when Foley citizens need assistance, as there is currently no rescue group within the community for them to call.
“One of the problems is there are cat colonies in Foley, but there’s not a coordinated effort,” said Brown. “There’s three or four people who are feeding the same group of cats, but they’re not communicating with one colony manager to organize it.”
When Brown and Becker are called to help T/N/R a cat colony, one of the first things to do is call the colony manager to be sure they feed the cats in the same spot and don’t feed them the night before the scheduled trapping to help ensure success. With no colony manager, the trappers have no one to call to assist them in helping the cat population.
“That to me is a prime example of why Foley needs a coordinated effort,” said Brown. “I know there are Foley citizens and officials who are all for an organized group, but the biggest hurtle is there’s nobody that has taken the bull by the horns to get some coordination.”
Both Brown and Becker say they make frequent trips to the Foley area to assist with feral and stray cats, an indication that there is an issue with overpopulation and a need for additional volunteers and trappers. One such case the duo handled in Foley involved a husband and wife who became unable to maintain the growing colony in their backyard.
“They were trapping and fixing the cats themselves at first, but as the colony grew they could no longer keep up,” said Becker. “They somehow got in touch with us, and we went to their home to trap a mother and her five kittens that the couple were feeding in their garage. It took about a week, but we managed to catch them all. This man loves the cats, he donated money, and he gave us collars for each cat we got fixed to tell them apart. We think we’ve gotten the situation there under control, no more cats have shown up so far.”
Another incident involved a Foley woman who moved from the area into a nursing home, leaving her two indoor only cats at home. When the cats got outdoors, the family called local rescue groups to help trap them and rehome them. Another local group offered to foster the cats if someone could trap them, which Brown and Becker set out to do, without a picture to even guide them. After asking around the subdivision, they encountered a neighbor who offered to help locate the cats, and were able to trap the cats. After sending pictures to the owner who confirmed they were her cats, they were treated by a vet before going to a rescue group to be fostered until finding a forever home.
Not all stories have been as successful, such as one concerning a woman in a nursing home in the area, where Brown and Becker have not yet been able to trap the cat taken care of at the location. They’ve been by numerous times, but neither have ever seen the cat.
“I think she’s so feral that she probably has several places she eats, so she doesn’t come to this location every day,” said Brown. “That’s the problem, neither of us have the time to be here as much as needed to help. We live in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, so trapping down here isn’t as easy for us to come, set a trap, and wait and watch this trap until we catch a cat.”
Another issue is all members of OBACCP are volunteers, using their own miles and vehicles and time to do something they love and believe in. But as they each have personal lives, jobs, and families, they’re not always able to get to Foley as quickly as they’d like to help when they receive an email or call.
“We can’t just trap, if someone calls and says they have a cat there at that moment and they want us to come and get it, unless it’s injured that’s not going to happen,” Becker said. “Then we have to coordinate with the vets, because the vets volunteer their time for T/N/R programs. They have a business they need to run to make money, so everything they do for our groups is all volunteer. We take cats to be fixed as they have extra openings and tell us to bring the feral cats in. We would love to do it right when people call, but if we trap these feral cats without coordinating with a vet, then where do we take them until then?”
This brings another point that OBACCP is working towards making into a reality: a tri-city shelter between Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Foley. In May, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, and Baldwin County approved $5,000 each to go towards a study for a potential tri-city shelter after being approached by rescue groups and advocates hoping to see a shelter in the future. OBACCP is a large supporter of the shelter, and hopes the study will bring optimistic results. A shelter would help kittens that are caught by local groups as well, giving them a higher chance to be adopted.
“If you can trap kittens at five weeks or younger then you can socialize them and adopt them out,” said Becker. “But when you trap them then who’s going to keep them until they’re adopted? We’re low on fosters, and that’s another good thing about a shelter. It would be easier to shelter these kittens and have volunteers come in each day to feed, water, and play with them until we could find them a home.”
Brown and Becker said a shelter would also be a great place to keep female cats who have been trapped and spayed until they’ve healed enough to be returned to their original location. Until such a time as a shelter is confirmed, Brown states there are plenty of organizations that need assistance.
“Gulf Shores is a newer organization and they need volunteers to help trap and foster,” Brown said. “We’re always looking for volunteers to help trap and foster, and Foley needs a rescue organization to help with the feral cats in this area and a T/N/R program of their own. For those who can’t volunteer time but would like to help, we accept donations to put towards the care of the cats and the T/N/R program.”
To learn more about OBACCP, check out their website at https://obaccp.org or follow them on Facebook.