Today, the Animal Rescue League of Berks County will open applications for Operation CatSnip, a grant-based, lower-priced trap-neuter-return (TNR) program to help Berks County residents with outdoor stray or feral “community” cats. TNR is a widely-accepted, proven and humane method to control and reduce the community cat population through spay/neuter, which leads to population stabilization and eventual reduction in the amount of community outdoor cats. The project’s first grantor is Specialty Rigging of Temple, PA, who provided a $10,000 grant to allow 400 cats to receive spay/neuter surgery, a rabies vaccine, a microchip and an ear tip, which is a removal of the tip of the cat’s left ear— the universal designation that the community cat has been spayed or neutered. The applicant will pay a $15 co-pay when they drop off the trapped cat for surgery.
The program is open by application only, and residents will be selected based upon need. “If there is a demand for services that exceeds the grant, we will use a combination of breadth and depth of the problem and financial need when approving applications,” says Alexis Pagoulatos, the ARL’s Executive Director.
“Because these cats most often just show up in people’s backyards, understandably, most people don’t want to pay a lot or might not have the means to have one or more cats spayed or neutered,” says Pagoulatos. “But even though they don’t own them, per se, they do care for them, and they realize that doing nothing will likely lead to more cats roaming in their yards or neighborhoods.” She added, “We are so grateful for Speciality Rigging for funding this program and making a substantial investment into helping residents combat the community cat crisis through a humane and effective solution.”
Besides spay/neuter surgery eliminating a cat’s ability to reproduce and eventually decreasing their numbers over time, sterilizing an outdoor cat offers additional benefits to residents, including the elimination of many nuisance behaviors such as yowling, fighting, spraying and roaming.
The grant application is open to all residents in Berks County who would like help with outdoor, free-roaming cats only. Operation CatSnip is not open for indoor house pet cats; those services are available by scheduling an appointment with their veterinarian or through the surgery center at the ARL. All Operation CatSnip cats will receive a physical examination, spay/neuter surgery, a rabies vaccine, a microchip and an ear tip. These services are non-negotiable; however, residents who are looking to add additional medical services, such as flea/tick treatment, ear cleanings or dental exams/cleanings, may request those for an additional fee at the time they are notified of their approval. All approved applicants must set up an appointment before they trap and drop off cats; no walk-in appointments will be accepted. Drop offs for trapped cats will be between 7-7:30AM and pick up between 1:30-4:30PM on the same day of surgery. Cats are required to be in a trap when they are dropped off. If residents do not have a trap, the ARL has a limited number available for rental by calling the shelter.
To learn more and apply, please visit the ARL’s website at www.berksarl.org/operation-catsnip, or call the shelter at 610-373-8830 x640. Please make sure to mention this program when calling.