All Paws on Deck

 

Volunteers from Dallas Pets Alive! work to keep feral cats on the Katy Trail safe and fed. (Courtesy Dallas Pets Alive!)

Don’t feed those stray cats often seen peeping through bushes along the Katy Trail. Such generosity puts them in danger of being injured by cyclists and rollerbladers, animal advocates warn.

Instead, Dallas Pets Alive! offers a better way to befriend feral felines with a program that aims to care for and control the population of the area’s untamed cats.

“There needs to be a perspective shift in the community for how to help these animals,” said Leslie Sans, executive director of Dallas Pets Alive!

The nonprofit rescue seeks to reduce euthanasia of companion animals by focusing on healthy, treatable cats and dogs that have been passed over by other animal services.

According to its website, the group addresses feral populations by managing 75 stray cat colonies in Dallas through Trap-Neuter/Spay-Release (TNR).

“It’s no longer acceptable to euthanize,” program director Tina Hoskins said. “Too many animals are dying in shelters when there are more humane options.”

With TNR, Dallas Pets Alive! works to provide medical care and other sustainable living solutions for feral cats that aren’t suitable for adoption.

The program does just about everything a common cat owner would do, but it returns the cats outside rather than sending them to a shelter.

(Courtesy Dallas Pets Alive!)

Volunteers place shelters and deliver food daily to feeding stations along the trail. In addition, colony managers protect the felines by addressing misconceptions about protecting stray animals.

“I’ve never met an aggressive feral cat, yet too many people look at inhumane options because they see the cats as an inconvenience,” Hoskins said. Too many see caring for stray cats as a bad thing, she said.

With an estimated 300,000 feral cats in Dallas, she said more volunteers are needed.

“We want to relieve the city of this work, because there are more animals needing our help,” Hoskins said. “These animals deserve to be healthy, too.”

Sans said help is also needed with programs for adoptable animals. “There needs to be a desire to foster or adopt, because lives are saved when you do,” she said.

Animal homelessness often stems from lack of education about adoption, as well as other factors such as breed restrictions in neighborhoods and owners moving or losing their jobs, Sans said.

The organization often partners with popular stores to provide education and adoption opportunities.

Sans recommended families adopt a pet rather than purchase one retail.

“Animals are a part of our family, and these animals deserve a family,” Sans said. “It’s time for us to work together as a community to be a voice for these animals.”

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