On Tuesday, April 18, the Augusta-Richmond County Commission approved to start a program to save stray cats from euthanasia, at the end of their holding period. This Augusta “Community Cat” program was made possible with a partnership between Augusta Animal Services, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia (HSNEGA), and Best Friends Animal Society.

More times than often you’ve probably seen a cat roaming around Augusta. While the city has been having an issue with stray cats, the solution has been to euthanize them.

In 2022, according to Georgia Department of Agriculture, Augusta Animal Services took in 2,325 cats and euthanized 1,461. Which meant a saving rate of just 37%. State leaders now have a better plan in place to reduce the overpopulation of cats.

This “Community Cat” program will Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) healthy cats back in the community. Trap- Neuter-Return is an effective way to improve saving rates over time by 80%. The TNR program consists of trapping the cat, having it medically evaluated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear tipped.

Cats being killed at Augusta Animal Services will decrease and the shelter’s capacity for at-risk cats will increase

The program is set to launch next week. Augusta Animal Services will stop receiving community cats unless they are sick, injured, or involved in a bite case. Otherwise, these cats will be taken in by a local coordinator from the HSNEGA, where caregivers will perform the TNR process.

Best Friends has committed to funding the program for three years. They have also given HSNEGA an initial grant of $150,000 which will support medical care and surgeries for cats. The grant also will help staff the program.

Along with the community cats comes community support – for those wanting to help with this initiative or need help with outdoor cats, contact HSNEGA at ccpaugusta@hsnega.org.

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