The initiative Stray Animals relates to the MAP Initiative 4: Creating Attractive and Desirable Places. It relates specifically to Action 9: Promote and Expand Community-Based Neighborhood Enhancement Programs, because it involves the creation of programs to control the stray animal population. This will increase safety for neighborhood residents, their pets, and the animals themselves.
This initiative was created by a resident’s email correspondence with Lisa Dunaway. Residents commented at the TPA Neighborhood Association meeting on February 3rd, 2016, how several dogs were loose without a collar or on a leash, leading to the concern of whether they were stray or not. This also led to safety concerns for residents and children.
This initiative is important because it ensures that animals are identified as a stray or someone’s pet. Neighborhood children may interact with loose animals, which can be dangerous as dogs may bite them. For example, in the span of one year in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, 200,000 residents were bitten by abandoned dogs¹. This also protects residents’ pets so they are not confused with stray animals.
A program to trap, neuter, and return animals identified as stray in the neighborhood could be coordinated with Muncie Animal Care (MAC) or Animal Rescue Fund (ARF). The initiative below, focusing on stray cats, will involve several phases in order to complete. In order to take all of the neighborhood’s concerns into account, all phases will need to be completed. However, these phases can be started at different periods in time. Ideally, this initiative would be best conducted in the spring, summer, and autumn months.
Phase 1: Relocation of Feeding Locations
Phase 1 involves taking the current feeding sites located at each of the vacant properties and relocating them to different locations as established by the neighborhood association. The neighborhood association representative will need to deem a place suitable for the cats to eat and potentially establish residence that will not disrupt any vacant properties, current homes, or various neighborhood functions. The neighborhood can work with MAC and other pet humanitarian organizations, such as ARF, to establish a suitable place. Once this has been established, the cats should relocate from their current location to the areas where they are being fed, solving the issue of occupancy within vacant homes and lots.
Phase 2: Trap, Neuter, and Return
Phase 2 involves the safe trapping of the stray cats within the designated feeding areas. This would most likely be facilitated by an outside agency such as the ARF or MAC. From this point the cats would be safely taken from the neighborhood, neutered at an offsite location, tagged using a non-harmful indicator of already being neutered, and returned to the neighborhood. This initiative would prevent the cats from becoming too invasive in the area. Working with this initiative may require some outside monetary resources. Organizations such as PetSmart Charities have grants directly associated with the costs of getting cats neutered.
The Havahart humane trap can be the quickest rescue method for stray or feral dogs. It is best executed by MAC or in coordination with them. You can order the trap online, but MAC should have the materials to do this.
- When baiting this type of trap, make sure to use effectual bait (real meat products, cheese, or canned cat food).
- Use towels or blankets to cover the flooring grate. This way, the trap offers more “walk-in” appeal.
- Leave a trail of bait approximately 6 feet around the perimeter of the trap.
- You can also cover the trap, giving it a den feel.
- Make sure to check the trap often. (Avoiding undue stress to the dog when using this method is imperative.)
- Once the dog is caught, use your normal speaking voice or soft tone to calm the animal, then transport.
There are slightly different approaches for handling stray or feral dogs, but this initiative is focusing on stray dogs and those methods.
A neighborhood association member could take charge of this initiative and coordinate with MAC or ARF. Residents should all be responsible though for putting collars on their pets, even microchipping them, and keeping them on their personal property. Residents can have their pet microchipped at a local veterinary clinic. Microchipping helps authorities determine that a lost pet is not a stray and return it to its owner. If residents happen to see a loose animal that does not have a collar or identification on it, they should report it to MAC or ARF so those organizations can properly handle the situation. If the animal is friendly, they can choose to call and set up an appointment to bring it into ARF for a free microchip scan.
Case Study One: IndyFeral
IndyFeral² is a program created in 1999 in Indianapolis. Its goal is to reduce the number of stray cats euthanized in Indianapolis animal shelters, specifically feral cats. A feral cat is defined as the offspring of a domestic cat who was abandoned or lost and left to defend itself. They usually are never handled by humans. IndyFeral utilizes the “trap, neuter, and return” (TNR) method in an attempt to control the population. Cats trapped in designated areas in Indianapolis neighborhoods were then taken to the Southside Animal Shelter for spaying or neutering, tagged by clipping part of their left ear (which is a non-invasive and less harmful method of tagging cats), and released back into the neighborhood. Since the program began, the population has been controlled, and these cats are allowed to live in their particular neighborhood without the fear of contributing to the population. PetSmart Charities provided the two grants that financed the TNR process.
Case Study Two: Stray Rescue of St. Louis
Stray Rescue of St. Louis³, a no-kill organization, was officially founded in 1998. Its purpose is to rescue stray animals and provide medical attention, restore them to health, and place them in loving adopted homes. Within a few years of its inception, Stray Rescue grew to offer 14 different programs that support its goals, including multiple stray rescue programs. They describe the Havahart humane trap, which is covered above. They also discuss a great method for those without resources but have time. Gaining the trust of stray or feral dogs is key to success here.
- Coax the dog into believing they are joining a (human) pack. By feeding them and keeping them calm, they can be lured into thinking everything is okay.
- Use real meat products when attempting to lure the stray. It must be consistent, and the first attempts are usually unsuccessful. Keep to a schedule, and sit in the area while it eats. Talk to it in a calming voice.
- Do not force a rescue since this can set the process back days.
- When the stray becomes more at ease, use a slip lead and bait to finish the rescue. Wear bite gloves as a precautionary measure and, if necessary, a muzzle. When the slip lead is around its neck, pick up the torso and use the lead to control its head. The dog may put up a fight, but it typically only lasts a minute or so.
- Finally, carry it to a safe environment, such as a crate, car, or shelter.
Using a pole noose can make teaching dogs to walk on a leash nearly impossible later on and should be avoided.
Organizations such as PetSmart Charities have grants directly associated with the costs of spaying/neutering cats. This group will provide a $100,000 grant for 1 to 2 years allowing for a maximum amount of $200,000 in grant money. The following agencies are available for the grant: 501(c)3 nonprofits, government agencies, tribal entities, and first nations. This grant works with geographically-targeted areas, such as TPA, to work on controlling the growth of the stray cat population. PetSmart Charities has funded many trap, neuter, return programs locally and nationally. This grant can be applied for online using this application. The deadline for this application is September 3rd annually at noon.
There is also a similar grant, the Targeted Spay/Neuter Grant, offered by PetsSmart Charities that would fit the same criteria that TPA needs for the stray cat population. It would provide $100,000 per year for up to two years in grant money. This grant can be applied for online using this application. The deadline for this application is September 3rd annually at noon.
PetSmart Charities also has a document on how to implement these projects with their PetSmart Charities Community TNR: Tactics and Tools, which is downloadable as a free PDF or purchasable as a book.
Muncie Animal Care
2401 S. Gharkey St.
Muncie, IN 47302
Phone: (765) 747-4851
Contact: Phil Peckinpaugh, Director
Additional websites of interest
1: Stray Rescue of St. Louis, “Feral Dog Information,” StrayRescue.org, Accessed 19 April 2016, http://www.strayrescue.org/node/319
2: IndyFeral, “All About IndyFeral,” FACE Low Cost Animal Clinic, Accessed 19 April 2016, http://facespayneuter.org/indyferal/
3: Stray Rescue of St. Louis, “Feral Dog Information,” StrayRescue.org, Accessed 19 April 2016, http://www.strayrescue.org/node/319