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Published: Thursday, 7/4/2002

Planned Pethood creates program to solve problem

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Karen Latta, left, of Planned Pethood and Janet Diefenthaler hold kittens found near Ms. Diefenthaler's trailer in the Byrnehill Mobile Home Park. Karen Latta, left, of Planned Pethood and Janet Diefenthaler hold kittens found near Ms. Diefenthaler's trailer in the Byrnehill Mobile Home Park.
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When kittens come by the dozens, they can be a big nuisance.

Planned Pethood, a local non-profit, is working to reduce kitty-made messes and quiet midnight caterwauling by slowing the stray cat population explosion.

The group is implementing its trap-neuter-release program in some of Toledo's mobile home parks. Volunteers from Planned Pethood set traps last week at Byrnehill Mobile Home Park on Hill Avenue in South Toledo.

Mobile home parks often have stray cat problems because people move frequently and may abandon their pets, said Kathy Kozak, a Planned Pethood volunteer. The small size of these communities make these parks a good place to conduct trap-neuter-release.

“The situation is bad all over, but without funding, we can't go into a large neighborhood and start trapping,” Ms. Kozak said. “Mobile home parks are good places to educate people and get the program under way.”

In Lucas County, there are an estimated 71,000 stray cats.

After capturing stray cats, the group will take them to veterinarians to get rabies shots and be spayed or neutered. The animals will then be returned to their home territory.

“We still have some kittens, but we're not overrun with them like we were in the past,” said Michael Lee, manager of two mobile home parks targeted by Planned Pethood earlier this year.

The program has had positive results, he said. “There's not as much mating going on, so you don't hear the constant cat fights.”

The initiative aims to stabilize stray cat populations. When cats in a colony are spayed or neutered, the population does not grow, Ms. Kozak said. Sterilized cats cannot breed and will not allow other felines to join the group.

Another benefit for residents is that spayed and neutered cats may cause less commotion than their amorous counterparts. They do not spray strong-smelling urine or engage in noisy mating rituals.

“There's still some resistance from residents to returning the cats,” Ms. Kozak said.

Some people advocate rounding up stray cats and euthanizing them, but this is a short-term solution, she said. More felines will quickly move into the area and multiply.

Byrnehill Mobile Home Park is the third site for Planned Pethood efforts. The previous communities were Liberty Mobile Court and Bel Aire Mobile Court on Nebraska Avenue.

At Liberty, 19 cats were trapped and at Bel Aire, volunteers captured 13 cats. Some female cats were pregnant at the time, so they could not be spayed.

“I think we still need to do some trapping,” Mr. Lee said. “I hope they continue their follow-up efforts.”

Ms. Kozak said Planned Pethood intends to keep trapping at Liberty and Bel Aire when more funding becomes available. The program relies on individual donations and grants from charitable foundations.

Efforts at Byrnehill are off to a good start. Last week, volunteers caught eight adult cats and trapped several kittens they will tame and put up for adoption.

In addition to working with strays, Planned Pethood has helped low-income families in North and East Toledo get their pets spayed or neutered.

“Sterilization is key,” Ms. Kozak said. “Until we spay and neuter, the cat overpopulation problem is just going to get worse.”



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