Pet Panel Hopes to Make Robbins Focus of First Campaign
"Drive is a very important word," said committee chairwoman Angela Zumwalt, "because lots of people come up with ideas and very few drive them."
The committee mulled over logistics during its meeting Wednesday for the best way to work with Robbins leading up to the spay/neuter event. It is tentatively scheduled for the third or fourth weekend in April 2007.
Zumwalt is encouraged by the positive response she's had from Robbins town officials.
"We're very excited in talking with them because they have a lot of ideas about ways we can connect with the community," Zumwalt said.
Robbins Mayor Mickey Brown, Police Chief Danny Brown and Town Commissioner Mark Garner attended the meeting. Zumwalt will attend the Town Board meeting Thursday when the rest of the commissioners will decide whether they wish to be the committee's first focus area.
The committee, appointed by the county commissioners, seeks solutions to the pet overpopulation problem in Moore County. It represents school, breeder, hunter, animal cruelty, welfare and shelter interests.
The committee's five teams -- education, spay/neuter, placing homeless pets, focus area concept and communications/publicity -- presented the results of their work sessions since the group's May 24 meeting.
In addition to each of the team's reports, Maureen Burke-Horansky presented information on feral cats.
"Every town has feral cats," Burke-Horansky said.
Feral cats, or wild, non-domestic cats, tend to cluster by garbage cans, such as areas behind restaurants, hotels or shopping centers.
While feral cats serve useful purposes, such as rodent control, their numbers can quickly get out of control. Burke-Horansky presented statistics from Charlotte/Meck-lenburg Spay/Neuter Clinic: One pair of mating cats and their offspring can produce 66 kittens within three years, 3,400 kittens within five years and more than 3.7 million kittens within eight years.
Corky O'Connor from the Moore Humane Society offered a disclaimer that only one in five feral kittens survives to adulthood.
In spite of the numbers that Burke-Horansky called "overwhelming," the answer is not euthanasia.
"People feel that if we're going to trap them, they should be euthanized," Burke-Horansky said. "What happens is all the cats in the outlying areas say, 'uh-oh, we're losing our species,' and they move in and breed."
The best response is to spay or neuter the cats to control their population levels.
Burke-Horansky's organization, Animal Advocates of Moore County, trapped, vaccinated and spayed or neutered more than 530 feral cats since the group's founding in 2002. The cats are given shots for rabies and distemper, and are also treated for fleas and dewormed, before being returned to their caretakers.
"We notch their left ears," she said. "That's the international sign for a feral cat that's been spayed."
Currently, Animal Control and Animal Advocates are among the few working to control the population, but Burke-Horansky said the effort needs more support.
"I think every town should be participating," Burke-Horansky said, in the effort to trap and spay/neuter feral cats.
The Pinehurst Village Council is the only municipality that helps by contributing $100 a month to efforts to control the feral cat population.
Mary Jo Morris, a committee member representing animal welfare interests, said the communities will benefit.
"The cats themselves have a more positive impact on a community than a negative impact if the population is under control," Mary Jo Morris said.
In other business:
-- Zumwalt's opening remarks reminded the committee what a critical time summer is in animal welfare.
"We're now putting down twice as many pets because of the summer," Zumwalt said, a number that she said equals about 100 pets a week euthanized.
Al Carter of the county Animal Control later said that the Animal Center has taken in 130 dogs in three days this week. Last year, Animal Control euthanized about 67 percent of the animals brought in.
-- Linda Hubbard presented a two-pronged plan from the Education Committee: (1) Pet owners and dogs will go into classrooms to work with children, and (2) Volunteers will be trained to teach responsible pet ownership. A training session is scheduled for Aug. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Agriculture Center in Carthage.
Hubbard also spoke about her efforts with C.A.R.E., Canine Assisted Reading Education, and the Canine Visitors Bureau. The committee will draw much of its educational materials, including lesson plans, for the schools from A.R.F., American Rescue Fund.
"We'll at least get some humane education in the schools," Hubbard said.
-- Dr. Tom Daniels made a presentation for the Spay/Neuter team. The discussion focused largely on the logistics of the April spay/neuter event. Members discussed who would perform the procedure and how to attract community support. The committee hopes to preview the event with an education campaign.
"The bottom line is we've got to get (the animals) spayed or neutered," Daniels said.
Burke-Horansky announced that Animal Advocates will donate $2,000 to the event.
-- Mary Jo Morris spoke for the Placing Homeless Pets team. The committee will focus its efforts on moving more animals out of the shelters to other shelters with lower numbers that need pets, or to homes.
They discussed compiling a list of breeders that may help with placing purebred dogs that end up in shelters. They also will need volunteers to transport animals to other shelters or new homes.
-- Zumwalt announced the resignation of Wayne Blake and Kim Young from the committee. The two were forced to resign because of work and travel commitments.
Kirsten Beattie, an intern from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, can be reached at (919) 619-4327.
More like this story