Vouchers? Why aren't you trapping for everyone?
Our pilot voucher program, the 50 Feral Fix, has been a huge success by providing vouchers for TNR packages at the low cost clinic, People for Animals. They are reserved for individuals lacking funds and living in areas with no programs in place to help them TNR the cats they feed. This program began when our private vet stopped working with rescues. We noticed many people in low-income areas and towns without any kind of TNR support were more than willing to trap, but unable to afford even the low-cost TNR package at People for Animals in Hillside. With 250 vouchers issued in just a few months, we realized that this approach to TNR is working far better than anyone expected. Here's why!
Before: All TNR by Whiskers
In an ideal situation, the person feeding would allow us on their property to trap the cats, and transport them both ways to our vet in central NJ. The cats would be held by one Whiskers officer before and after, with the feeder only required to withhold food, talk to neighbors to make sure no food was left out, and get the cats on a feeding schedule. Some were able to donate enough to cover their own colonies' vetting costs, but most did not, so we still fundraised on Facebook and through our eBay store.
While convenient for the feeder, a vast majority of the people for whom we provided TNR services were physically and financially able to trap their own cats, and had room to hold them and transport. However, they did not see fixing the cats as their responsibility, and ultimately would not have fixed the cats without us using 18-24 hours a weekend to trap, and countless more hours on care and transport. We could also only be in one location at a time, taking the entire weekend to finish the colony before we returned to our week jobs.
While we TNRd one colony at a time, countless people feeding cats in lower income areas were ready, willing, and able to trap and finding ways to transport and hold their cats before using the low-cost clinic, but simply lacked funds.
After: Creating Caretakers
With the voucher program, we are able to help so many more people feeding cats become caretakers every weekend and also during the week! 24/7, we are receiving calls from people are ready to do the legwork and just need help paying. They are actually better suited trappers than we are, because they are the regular feeders at their colonies and as a result are able to trap quickly and efficiently! We cannot believe how many people are working so hard to reduce the numbers of cats born outside and know it can't happen if they don't become invested in the process. It is truly amazing to see how many people are realizing that fixing the cats they feed is the only way out of the cat overpopulation crisis in New Jersey.
By empowering our army of caretakers, it also gives us the ability to still help the few cases of people who are physically unable to trap and drive. We would hate to be able to deny them help because someone unwilling to do the work required called us first. The 50 Feral Fix motto is "Where there's a will, there's a spay!"