Save Lives with Feral Freedom

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Two tabby cats who are part of a TNR program

One of the keys to bringing about a time of No More Homeless Pets is reducing the number of cats currently dying in shelters nationwide. In most communities, at least 50 percent of the animals entering shelters are felines and on average only three out of every 10 cats leave alive. Sadly, in many shelters, only one in 10 cats survive.

TNR program success

But there is a proven way to save those cats’ lives. This step-by-step guide describes how the City of Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services (JACPS) and First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP) worked together to make it happen, and how you can do it, too.

Feral Freedom

Written by First Coast No More Homeless Pets director and founder Rick DuCharme with assistance from Best Friends Animal Society, this guide provides an inside look at the Feral Freedom program, which has dramatically reduced the number of cats dying in the Jacksonville, Florida, city shelter. It describes how the program began and evolved, and helps you assess whether Feral Freedom is a good fit for your community, along with providing step-by-step guidelines for planning and implementing your own program.

There’s also detailed information about the Jacksonville program and an appendix with documentation that your community can use. It is our hope that Feral Freedom will become a model for other successful lifesaving efforts around the country.

At its roots, Feral Freedom is a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for “community cats” — free-roaming feral, stray and lost cats who live outside and don’t belong to anybody. As detailed in this guide, reducing the number of cats killed in shelters requires a community- wide effort and commitment. But the results are well worth it: It saves your community money, and it saves the lives of thousands of cats, bringing us all one step closer to achieving a time of No More Homeless Pets.

Note: The following is an excerpt from the manual titled "Save Lives with Feral Freedom."