Berkeley Animal Center battles cat overpopulation with 4-part program
BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley Animal Center is within the second year of a program being used to advocate for community cats in the county area.
It may be something you have seen before: large groups of cats gathered close to a restaurant, a business or a neighborhood.
This is an issue the Berkeley Animal Center says they are working overtime to fix.
“What we do is we usually go into areas, help educate people in that area on how to trap them and try to get someone to maintain them going forward,” Volunteer Lori Carpenter says.
TNVR is a program that stands for trap, neuter, vaccinate and release. It is a two-year pilot program using cheaper costs with better results in battling overpopulation, disease and overcrowding in local shelters.
“They are incredibly adaptable. They can survive in every community,” Massachusetts SPCA representative Michael Keiley says. “We are seeing free-roaming cat populations in different volumes, but every area of the county.”
The program was made possible through a partnership between the Berkeley Animal Center and MSPCA.
The group brings vets in from New England for one weekend each month to care for up to 100 cats each trip.
Keiley says it can become a vicious cycle, more often in the south.
“It’s warm all year round. Cats breed all year round. It becomes a bigger problem. If you don’t get it under control with spay and neuter, it can spiral and balloon into a massive issue,” Keiley says.
Dedicated community members line up outside the gates every month, some in the early hours, in hopes of getting a spot at the clinic.
“Depending on weather, I will set up a tarp and lay back. Catch a little sleep before they actually start,” volunteer Michael Fields says.
Fields typically deals with larger cat colonies.
Volunteers will open registration at 6:30 a.m., then start the clinic around 7:30 a.m. by appointment and walk-ins… one cat at a time.
Each car can bring up to 10 cats.
Fields says it’s not for everyone, but for him, the hard work pays off.
“This is a commitment that I just feel, it’s right for Michael Fields,” Fields says.
The program has been successful in implementing TNVR for 2,288 cats and kittens since starting in April 2022.
The group hopes a more permanent solution can be put in place between local resources once it ends.
“When we all join forces together, the community, animal welfare, the county and legislators, we all work together and find new solutions to help cats,” Keiley says.
“A lot of people think we should just remove cats, but if you do that it creates something called the vacuum effect,” volunteer Taylar Tyson says. “When you remove a species, this being cats, the species will come back even faster and more.”
The next TNVR program dates are Dec. 16 and 17.
If you’re interested in learning more, click here.
You can also reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-719-5050.
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