Funds donated by benefactors for the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter will be used to address feral cat problem
Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:10am caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Funds from benefactors for the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter will be used to continue to address the feral cat population in Crawford County.
The animal shelter is providing funding so that Crawford County Animal Control Officer Kari Sieniarecki can continue the Trap-Neuter-Return program.
“Trap-Neuter-Return is a humane approach to addressing outdoor cat populations. Scientific research proves that community cat programs stop the breeding cycle and improve the lives of outdoor and feral cats,” according to the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.
Through the program, the feral cats are live trapped, taken to a veterinarian where they are spayed or neutered, given a rabies vaccination, and clipped on an ear so animal control officers can see from a distance that they have been altered.
The cats are then returned to the areas where they have been trapped.
Sieniarecki said the Trap-Neuter-Return program started on June 1, as soon as the stay-at-home order was lifted and veterinarians were allowed to start performing surgeries again.
To date, 104 feral cats have been addressed – primarily in the City of Grayling.
A $2,000 donation, which comes from funds given to the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter from the late Laura Purtill and the late Thomas Purtill just prior to the holiday season last year, is being used to keep the program going.
The Purtills lived in Bear Lake. Colonel Purtill, retired after 27 years of service and leadership as the Base Commander at Phelps Collins Air National Guard Base in Alpena, according to kalkaskafuneralhome.com. The base in now known as the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.
Laura was active in the community, volunteering her time and services at the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter, the Grayling Promotional Association, and the Friends of the Crawford County Library.
Earlier this year, in collaboration with the Humane Society of Macomb Foundation, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance awarded the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter a $5,000 Community Cats Trap-Neuter-Return grant.
Funds from that grant are close to being spent.
The cats are being taken care of at the Grayling Hospital for Animals.
Crawford County Administrator Paul Compo said veterinarian students from Michigan State University were in the community earlier this month to do the medical procedures and to get some hands-on experience.
“It’s kind of win-win for everybody,” Compo said.
Crawford County Commissioner Carey Jansen praised Sieniarecki for her work and dedication to the program.
“I’m really impressed with the animal control officer’s proactiveness,” Jansen said.
The feral cat problem in Crawford County is caused by owners who don’t spay or neuter them and let them outside. Those cats mate with others and start breeding. The cats then form their own colonies or pods.
If one female cat and one male cat are spayed and neutered, it will prevent 42,409 kittens from being born over a six-year period, according to the feralcatawarenessproject.com.
Ilene Wilson, the president of the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter Board of Directors, said the project is providing for a healthier pet population in the county and keeping unwanted cats out of the shelter.
Wilson acknowledged that the shelter is providing the funding for the program, while Sieniarecki is doing all the groundwork.
“Kari has been working her tail off,” Wilson said. “This program absolutely would not have happened without Kari. She deserves big kudos from the county for working so hard on this.”
Donors can sponsor taking care of a feral cat by sending a check for $50 to the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter or the Grayling Hospital for Animals. That covers the costs to spay and neuter a cat and for the rabies shot.
“We’re asking for sponsors to keep the program going,” Wilson said.