POINT PLEASANT — A group attempting to curb the feline population which recently spoke before the Mason County Commission, gave a similar presentation to Point Pleasant City Council this week.
Invited by Councilman Allen Moran, members of Operation Fancy Free (OFF), a registered 501(c)(3) in Jackson County, spoke to council about the group and its desire to establish a chapter in Mason County.
Much like she did when speaking to members of the Mason Count Commission, Kathy Stone, who co-founded the group with her husband, said OFF believes a trap-neuter-return system is the most humane and effective method to control the feral cat overpopulation crisis. Trained members of the organization humanely trap feral cats and take them to a local vet to be spayed or neutered, given a rabies shot and are tagged by a slight clip to the ear to identify them as having been vetted. This service is funded through donations and grant money.
Stone said to date, OFF volunteers have trapped, neutered (or spayed), and released 912 cats since it began in 2013. Included in these numbers were 423 males and 480 females, possibly preventing over 11,000 new, feral kittens from being born, Stone said. She added the group does not trap these feral cats from one place and then they are never seen again. She said they are returned to their feral cat colony but returned without the ability to reproduce, thus they die of natural causes and colony numbers eventually decline.
Though these undomesticated cats are returned to the habitat they understand, Stone said the colony is no longer growing. So, for example, a colony may be returned to an alleyway but in six months, there won’t be dozens more in that colony and the ones that are there will be healthier, reducing fighting and diseases, as well as spraying. These dividends, which include decreased intakes at shelters and the employees who deal with the intakes, will pay over time, Stone explained.
County commissioners gave the group their support to attempt to create a new chapter in Mason County, offering to write them a formal letter of support for grant applications.
Stone said after that initial show of support and the newspaper article the followed, she received several calls about the program and a donation of $200 to be used in Mason County. Stone said that money is being held until the chapter can begin. Stone said she needs two to four volunteers to step forward and receive training in the program to assist specifically with Mason County cats. Donations for the chapter are also needed – the group in Jackson County started with $1,000 in donations.
Stone has already applied for a grant through the Mason County Community Foundation for money but was turned down, she said, due to the chapter not existing, yet. Stone said having the group already in place when applying for grants should make the difference in obtaining these funds. Jane Winters with the MCCF, told the Point Pleasant Register, she encouraged Stone to reapply for the money. Stone said she would also be applying for a Claflin Foundation Grant as well. Again, getting the volunteers in place is crucial at this stage.
Point Pleasant City Council gave the group a similar show of support for the program with Stone asking those on council to connect her with volunteers or those who would like to donate to the group.
“Somebody here knows somebody,” Stone said about asking for help to establish this successful program in Mason County.
“Killing these cats really doesn’t solve this problem,” Stone explained to council with Mayor Brian Billing agreeing with her statement.
For more information on the program or volunteering, call 304-531-8710, or 304-372-1303, or email [email protected], or go to its website at www.operationfancyfree.weebly.com, or find it on Facebook by searching Operation Fancy Free.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.