Johnson County sees drastic drop in cats put down thanks to trap-neuter-release program

Saving lives, money and morale

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. – They’re saving cats’ lives one trap at a time in one Indiana county, and officials are seeing a staggering drop in the number of cats being put down.

Four years ago at the Johnson County Animal Shelter, 466 cats were euthanized in 1 year.

This past year, that number dropped to 80.

That’s an 83-percent drop, and it’s all thanks to what’s called the “trap-neuter-releas” or TNR program the county adopted into law 3 years ago.

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The Johnson County Humane Society runs the program in partnership with the county’s animal control department.

The baited traps are put out for feral cats and strays. Before being released back outside, those strays are then spayed or neutered and their ears are “tipped” as a way to identify them as sterile.

Employees with the humane society did this to 511 cats last year, and they say each and every cat counts.

“Before the system, any cat that was brought in was scanned for a microchip and (then) was euthanized, automatically,” Humane Society spokeswoman Janet Gorrell said.

Through this program, feral cat colonies should eventually disappear or at least fade, as the cats that are trapped are unable to reproduce.

And it’s not just about saving cats’ lives. It’s also saving a lot of money.

“Taxpayers are saving tens of thousands of dollars a year,” Director of Johnson County Animal Control Michael Delp said.

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It costs over $60 to put a cat down. Just last year alone, the county spent $23,000 less compared to the year before on euthanasia costs.

On top of that, the shelter is seeing a lower rate of employee turnover. Delp believes it’s because employees are now being asked to put down animals far less often, so their jobs are much more enjoyable.

Programs like this are also up and running in Marion and Hamilton counties. Shelby County is expected to have a TNR program running soon, too.

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