Taos Feral Feline Friends welcome funds for spay/neuter program

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Taos Feral Feline Friends (TFFF) said it has received more than $20,000 from PetSmart Charities to fuel its local spay/neuter efforts in Taos, Ranchos de Taos, El Prado and Questa.

The money will be used to spay or neuter up to 300 cats over the next 12 months, TFFF said in a statement. The grant program, “Spay/Neuter Taos,” which began in January 2011, focuses on free-roaming cats in the area. All free-roaming cats are eligible for the program, including cats and kittens adopted by local residents from anywhere other than shelters, pet stores or breeders. 

The grant is the fourth of its kind from PetSmart Charities to TFFF.

“We are honored to have earned their trust again,” said Leanne Mitchell, president of TFFF. “In particular, we are very happy that they have agreed to extend funding to the residents of Questa. This is a part of Taos County that has been underserved in animal welfare for many years and we intend to change that immediately.” 

TFFF works toward solving the related problems of feline homelessness and feline over-population, said Mitchell. She said 80 percent of all cats are born homeless, making it essential that the unchecked reproduction of homeless cats be addressed 

“PetSmart Charities’ grant will prevent thousands of live births in the wild,” Mitchell said. 

Proceeds from the grant will support TFFF’s core programs, which include:

• Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) — the primary means to find and fix feral cats. 

• The TFFF shelter — new cats admitted will have their spay/neuter costs fully funded. 

• “Pays To Help Strays” adoption service. The program rewards residents who adopt stray cats directly from the wild by providing free spay/neuter surgery, comprehensive vaccinations and testing for serious feline diseases. 

“Tackling feral cat reproduction is tough, labor-intensive work for our volunteers and caregiver clients, but it is critical to animal welfare in Taos,” said Mitchell. “Cats born in the wild often end up at Stray Hearts, which lacks facilities to house these difficult-to-adopt animals. Shelter over-crowding, in turn, leads to higher expenses for the shelter, and ultimately, the taxpayers of Taos County.”

For more information, contact Mitchell at (575) 737-9208 or catmomoftaos@hotmail.com. TFFF is online at taosferalfelinefriends.tripod.com.

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