n Monday, July 24th, with the help of several organizations, Animal DREAMS was able to spay/neuter and rabies vaccinate 54 cats from areas of Northern Berkshire County that have long been cat overpopulation hot spots.
Our top priority was to fix un-owned feral cats in a specific neighborhood. With the help of their caretakers, we trapped about a dozen feral cats. This was somewhat disappointing to us as there were more cats to trap. But one caretaker in the neighborhood was not completely on board with the project and was feeding the cats elsewhere, making it impossible to succeed. Fortunately, after several conversations, he is now enthusiastic to cooperate with a TNR (trap, neuter, return) project for the cats he cares for in the near future.
From that same neighborhood, we spayed and neutered thirteen owned cats, many of whom go outside and contribute to the large cat population there. We spayed and neutered nineteen cats from one household in a different area where cat reproduction had gotten out of hand. The remaining ten cats were owned by people who lived in Northern Berkshire County and who had received vouchers through the Massachusetts Animal Fund; Some had been waiting for appointments from local veterinarians who are back logged, and others didn’t have transportation to get their cats to those participating vets.
Working together with other organizations is what made our success possible. Berkshire Humane Society held a free rabies clinic in the targeted neighborhood where Animal DREAMS was able to meet cat-caretakers and explained the project. At that time, we were also able to meet owners of unfixed cats and signed them up for spay/neuter vouchers through the Massachusetts Animal Fund.
Second Chance Animal Shelter Mobile Clinic traveled several hours from North Brookfield, MA with their two spay/neuter vans to spend the day prepping for and performing surgeries. They were a dynamite team of women who worked late into the afternoon getting the job done before their long trip home.
Sheri Gustafson, Spay/Neuter Community Liaison for the Massachusetts Animal Fund came from the Boston area to help during the big event, assuring that paperwork was properly done so that the voucher program could fund the surgeries. Sherri didn’t mind getting her hands dirty; she helped us check in owned cats in, and she coach volunteers as they helped cats through the post-surgery phase.
Animal DREAMS volunteers were on hand the day of the surgeries making sure all cats were cared for, identified properly, and that they came out of surgery with no hitches.
The folks in the neighborhood came together to help these cats in a big way; they provided a perfect location to care for cats before and during the spay day, and they even made a donation to Animal DREAMS in gratitude for the project.
Though TNR can sometimes seem like a steep uphill climb with no end, there is no doubt that when we work to spay and neuter all of the cats in a particular area, it does solve the problem in that area. And that makes a great positive impact for the felines and the people who live there.