Cat over-population solution: Trap, neuter & release

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Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 9:28 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As our population grows, so does the number of pets. Right now, the area has an overpopulation of cats, which is a challenge for the city and county.

One local nonprofit is stepping in to help solve the problem.

You may not realize just how many cats are in your neighborhood.

“It’s a problem everywhere, and I think part of it is cats are very good at hiding,” said Mychelle Garrigan, Sioux Empire TNR founder and president.

Mychelle Garrigan and Mat Tougas are passionate about helping cats, launching a proven method used in other cities.

“Instead of starting another rescue that would just fill up right away, we figured we’d try and address this problem at the source,” said Tougas.

The solution: trap, neuter and return, or TNR. Each cat is also tattooed, microchipped and vaccinated.

“Recently, there was an issue with rabies in Sioux Falls regarding bats,” said Garrigan. “So one of the benefits of a TNR program is that there are all these cats out there when we go and trap, and we would also be inoculating them for rabies.”

The tip of the ear is snipped — an identifiable marker of a feral cat.

“So that’s going to make way less workload for the animal control officers and for the Humane Society staff where they don’t have to do intake on a cat that’s never going to be adoptable anyway,” said Garrigan.

They are not asking the city for money but a tweak to an ordinance.

“The off-leash and the at-large animal portion of the ordinance, which is a fine ordinance, counts against us because those cats that are already out there — once we’ve trapped him, neutered them and return them back to those areas — right now, the way the ordinance is, those cats are off leash at large animals because of us,” said Tougas.

Although there’s a great relationship with the city, releasing the cats back to their territory could lead to the nonprofit getting fined. TNR volunteers hope to do their work without worry.

“It’s the only way we’re going to see euthanasia numbers drop is if we start implementing this TNR, so we can break the breeding cycle,” said Tougas. “That’s the important thing is breaking that breeding cycle.”

“There will still be kittens. There just won’t be so many where literally you just don’t know how to handle them,” said Garrigan.

“It’s a labor of love, for sure,” said Tougas.

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