Four strong years for Four Directions

Best Friends’ Four Directions program is going on four strong years of helping the free-roaming cats of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Thanks to the program, thousands in a radius of about 150 miles surrounding the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, are getting the help they need: trap/neuter/return (TNR) services, food, and veterinary care.

When no alternatives are available, the program also relocates cats. Relocations take place on a case-by-case basis when cats are sick or injured or the area where they are living is unsafe. Sometimes the relocated felines come to Best Friends’ Sanctuary, as did an injured feral kitten named Leonard. In August 2011, Four Directions received a call from a Kanab woman looking for medical help for a kitten she was feeding who had what seemed to be a serious injury to his mouth. Luckily, Janice Dankert, coordinator for Four Directions, was able to get him trapped and on his way to the Best Friends clinic in a matter of hours. He required the kind of specialized care that our state-of-the-art facility could provide. His journey was chronicled as part of the Guardian Angel program.

Empowering communities at the local level

From facilitating larger TNR projects like one in Circleville, Utah, to routine spay/neuter surgeries for community cats, Four Directions maximizes impact by using the Best Friends clinic to perform surgeries and subsidizing local veterinarians for their work. In total, the program has fixed 5,368 cats.

While the Sanctuary has been very supportive of community cats who need special care (in 2011, over 80 local kittens entered the Sanctuary), Four Directions does its most impressive work out in the field. Helping communities help themselves is the hallmark of their accomplishments. Over 40 communities surrounding the Sanctuary have received support from the program. Four Directions utilizes a key volunteer in each of their larger locations to streamline efforts.

Linda Mitchell is one of their local volunteers. She retired to Kanab specifically to volunteer to help cats at Best Friends. She was intending to volunteer at Cat World but found a whole other world of community cats she could help through the Four Directions program. "I’m able to lend various talents to help cats, from making trap pads and trap covers, to helping with weekly food handouts (when donations are available), to helping with administrative work," says Linda.

Public/private partnership to save more lives

Shelly Kotter, community cat program manager at Best Friends, is excited about St. George officially bringing the Community Cat Program to their community. Four Directions has been working with St. George since the city is within their TNR territory. The Community Cat Program is a collaboration among the city, a local community cat organization, and Best Friends. It works by using TNR to divert community cats from the animal control system.

"We’re looking at St. George as the next area to embrace the Community Cat Program, which is a great fit for them. The officials are pleased with the results of TNR and, of course, how much money it has already saved them," shares Shelly.

Another Best Friends’ program will also work with Four Directions in St. George to make it a success. No More Homeless Pets in Utah will provide spay/neuter, while Four Directions will provide logistics assistance, a part-time employee, and a transport van.

Best Friends cat initiatives

Learn more about the successes of our cat initiatives in the last year.