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Animal rights activists in Orange County, California say they prepare for “worst kitten season” as they struggle to get feral cats neutered or neutered.
Prior to shutdown after several months of the pandemic, Orange County Animal Care’s (OCAC) Return to Field (RTF) program helped capture feral cats, take them to shelters for free spay and vaccination, and then again to be released into their colonies.
But when the program ended last year, volunteers and nonprofits that trap and help wild cats have taken full responsibility for the animals. With limited resources, trappers are “overwhelmed” as they worry about the worsening situation of the wild cats.
In Santa Ana, a foster home keeps more than 50 cats and pays nearly $ 400 for health services, TNR volunteer Romina Y. told the Epoch Times.
“It’s really hard for us to keep everything under control, and many of the cat rescue groups are non-profit and rely on donations,” said Romina, who refused to use her last name.
Previously, the RTF program helped control an overpopulation of wild cats and protect them from contact diseases, independent trapper Erika Rasmussen told The Epoch Times.
In 2019, the RTF program received a cease and desist letter from a community member accusing the shelter of breaking the law by leaving animals behind. Shortly thereafter, the RFT services were discontinued with no mention of a resumption.
“On the spot, OCAC was advised that the release of cats without possession is prohibited in the community,” Monica Schmidt, spokeswoman for Orange County Animal Care, told The Epoch Times. “We work internally and with members of the TNR and RTF communities to identify and develop options that support public safety and animal welfare.”
Rasmussen is committed to ensuring that the shelter resumes the RTF program at least a few days a month so that community members can deliver wildcats for neutering and neutering. The public would also take responsibility for taking the cats back, she said.
Without help, more cats will wander the streets of Orange County as the worst kitten season approaches, Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen stated that nonprofits provide vouchers for trappers to take cats in for health services. The cost of the service is not fully covered, however, and trappers end up paying out of pocket.
Meanwhile, trappers like Romina have said they are concerned about the fate of the cats.
“Everyone is totally overwhelmed, especially because the animal shelter doesn’t take in animals and those who take them in are kittens [and] they are not healthy, “said Romina.
Kittens admitted to the shelter for treatment are then placed in foster care before being placed on an euthanasia list, she said.
“There are kittens three or four weeks old with an infection as simple as an upper respiratory infection that is easily treated with medication,” said Romina. “It kills us to see all the pictures of those little kittens with a common cold or ringworm that are put on the euthanasia list.”
A peaceful protest will be held in Tustin on June 4th to pressure Orange County Animal Care to return RTF services.