Trap-neuter-return project in Beaver, Utah

One of the community cats in the mobile home park in Beaver, Utah, who was spayed and vaccinatedThe explosion of cats, prolifically reproducing in a mobile home park in Beaver, Utah, was more than a decade in the making. A local resident was doing all she could to get as many of the cats fixed as possible. However, as more were born and more dumped on the property, it was an uphill battle.

The ailing single woman with limited resources was making the 30-mile drive to the nearest low-cost clinic to get the cats spayed or neutered, but since the best she could do was to fix only a few cats at a time, it was, unfortunately, only a drop in the bucket. With growing fear and frustration over what the future would hold for her beloved cats, an invaluable resource arrived in her community, and none too soon.

A plan to help community cats

Janice Dankert, Best Friends community cat program supervisor, had been talking with Beaver’s animal control officer, who had been working on getting the community (ownerless, free-roaming) cats spayed or neutered and released once they entered the shelter. Noticing an increase of unfixed, free-roaming cats in his community, he asked Janice if more could be done. Janice answered a question with a question. “If I could come up to trap and transport 100 cats in a weekend, would you help us find the locations?"

TNR project in Beaver, Utah

With Best Friends staff and volunteers secured, the transport vehicles arrived on a hot summer morning. Clinic personnel from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary were ready to perform as many as 100 surgeries that weekend, as well as address any of the cats’ medical issues.

One of the volunteers, Moira, who had two cats from a community cat colony, was thrilled to take part in her first trap-neuter-return (TNR) project. “My heart was deeply impacted meeting the individuals who care for the cats,” says Moira. “They are people who are struggling with their own finances and illnesses, yet they find a way to provide food and shelter for homeless cats. It makes me feel like ‘saving them all’ is an achievable goal.  And it makes me want to help even more.”

Fostering for sick kittens

One of the kittens from the Beaver, Utah, TNR projectIn addition to providing spay/neuter for 96 cats over the weekend, Best Friends also arranged to have 20 sick, at-risk kittens enter foster homes. Staffers and volunteers took in the friendly and sick babies, who will be made available for adoption as soon as they are ready.

While treating each cat as an individual is an important aspect of Best Friends Animal Society’s community cat program, helping people in need is the real key to sustainable work. “The community was very happy and excited to receive some help,” says Janice. “One lady cried and hugged me. The gentleman who used to feed the cats moved out of the mobile home park and while they weren't her cats, she couldn't watch them starve. She's been trying to feed them. She wanted to get them fixed, but never reached out for help.”

These days, the help keeps coming. Another massive TNR trip has been scheduled to fix  another 100 cats in the area.

“I wish more folks, especially animal control officers, would reach out and ask for help,” says Janice. “We all know that no person wants to go to work and kill cats, but standing up and saying that is another step — just as the Beaver County animal control did. This inspires us to help him and his community even more.”

Learn more about Best Friends’ cat initiatives

Photos by Janice Dankert and Mark Morgan