Fundraiser Planned for Aug. 5

There is a growing problem with stray cats in Ellicottville and several dedicated citizens have taken it upon themselves to address the issue head on.

As Betsy Peyser and Teresa Wagner explained to the town and village of Ellicottville boards a few months ago, there are no animal welfare organizations that can offer help in our region, so the only remaining option was to find a way to take on the task with local volunteers.

The technique they have chosen to use is the trap/neuter/return (TNR) approach, where cats and kittens are humanely caught, sterilized, given basic medical care and certain vaccines and then returned to their original colony or environment.  The strategy reduces population growth over multiple feline generations.

According to Wikipedia, “TNR is endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) as ‘the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling free-roaming cat populations’ and ‘the only proven humane and effective method to manage feral cat colonies.’ The Humane Society of the United States has also endorsed ‘community-based TNR programs with on-going responsible management as the most viable, long-term approach available at this time to reduce feral cat populations.’”

This is only the beginning of a long-term program, said Ellicottville’s Teresa Wagner, who, with Peyser and Melanie Pritchard, is spearheading the effort. Although there is no way to know how long it might take, the group is ready to take 6-8 nights, or more, to trap a significant number of animals. The plan is to start trapping in August and continue until it’s too cold for an animal to stay in a trap overnight.

The next step in the process is to transport the cats and kittens to veterinarian Tim O’Leary from the Almost Home Animal Sanctuary in Little Valley, who has agreed to spay/neuter them and provide basic veterinary care, including rabies and distemper vaccinations. Wagner said that Dr. O’Leary will keep the animals for about 24 hours to be certain they have recovered from their procedures.

Then, volunteers will return the cats to where they were found.

The group also would like to continue caring for the animals year-round. That involves searching for new litters and possibly building a feeding station.

Of course, this all requires funding. While the labor for this first phase is being donated, supplies, food and medicines will cost $60 per animal.  To that end, a fundraising event is being held on Friday, August 5 at 6 p.m. at the Ellicottville Town Center.

The fundraiser will include food, drinks, music, door prizes, a Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle for a $10 donation at the door.

If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, there are still many ways to help – by volunteering to help or making a donation.

Wagner also says the group needs to borrow humane animal traps (e.g. Havahart) to use throughout the project. Traps will be returned.

To donate, volunteer, loan a trap or offer other assistance, please contact Peyser at 699-6131, Wagner at 699-8345 or Pritchard at 699-4800.