New community cat programs in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona

In partnership with PetSmart Charities®, Best Friends implements new community cat programs in Philadelphia; Tucson, Arizona; and Columbus, Georgia.
By Best Friends staff

Even though Americans love them, cats are still the pet most likely to be killed in our country’s shelters. But we’re working hard to change that. Through Best Friends’ community cat programs and a partnership with PetSmart Charities®, we’ve created public/private relationships focused on keeping community cats (strays and ferals) out of shelters in Albuquerque, New Mexico; San Antonio, Texas; and Baltimore, Maryland.

Programs for community cats in cities around the country

These projects have saved thousands of stray cats from dying in shelters. Shelly Kotter, Best Friends’ community cat program manager, says: “Albuquerque hasn’t killed a feral cat since we started the program, and the staff in San Antonio called me recently and said they have no kittens.” Best Friends is not stopping there. We’re launching programs in three new cities: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Georgia; and Tucson, Arizona.

Community cats in those places will soon have a brighter future. Thanks to a generous grant from PetSmart Charities®, Best Friends will provide staff, vehicles, humane traps and funding for spay/neuter and vaccinations, based on what each community already has and what they desperately need to save more cats.

Columbus, Georgia

The city of Columbus applied last year, and we were happy to sign them on this year. Shelly explains, “We thought there were some things they needed to work on last year and, boy, did they! They have buy-in all the way up through the mayor, who cares for a colony of cats.” With a population of just under 200,000 people, and cats dying in the shelter, Columbus is ready for big changes. Working with our shelter partner, Columbus Animal Care and Control, the goal is to complete 2,000 spay/neuter surgeries for each of the next three years.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“I can’t say enough about Philadelphia,” Shelly adds. “It blew me away.” The shelter, Animal Care and Control Team Philly, has committed to doing 1,500 spay/neuter surgeries per year. Best Friends plans to hire two full-time staff, plus supply vans, traps and a budget for extra medical care to complete an additional 2,500 surgeries. The shelter has targeted programs aimed at helping Philadelphia residents with their pets, and now there will be more much-needed capacity to help community cats as well.

Pima County, Arizona

In Pima County, Arizona, the project is gearing up to spay or neuter 5,000 cats in the first year. By targeting nine zip codes around Tucson, a city selected because its shelters have the highest intake numbers, the three-year goal is to make the county no-kill for cats.

This project was made possible with a few minor revisions to the local animal ordinance. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the changes and the Community Cats Project. “The support for this program has been overwhelming, from elected officials and from the public,” says Peter Wolf, Best Friends cat initiatives analyst. “This is going to be a game-changer for Pima Animal Care Center and for the community as a whole, and we’re all ready to hit the ground running.”

Even though there’s a lot of work ahead, what makes these programs possible and successful are caring people who want to save animals instead of kill them. Shelly says, “The absolute and total passion (for the cause) is palpable in each city. All these people from government really care, so we’re thrilled to work together to save cats’ lives in their cities.”

Learn more about Best Friends programs that support communities nationwide to Save Them All.

Photo by Best Friends staff