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      Animal Control Board opposes Trap-Neuter-Release program

      The Amarillo Animal Control Board voted unanimously Tuesday night in opposition of the feral cat Trap-Neuter-Release program proposed by Texas Panhandle Pet Savers.

      According to TPPS President Robin Cupell, there are 38,000 feral cats in Amarillo. She and the members of the non-profit organization gave a presentation to the Animal Control Board in hopes it would vote to recommend the TNR program to city commissioners.

      "Just like anybody else approaching this problem, we want the numbers reduced, as well," Cupell said. "We're not bleeding hearts, we're not standing out on a soap box just trying to save every last life. We want these numbers reduced. We just want to do it in a respectful and humane way."

      The TNR program would put the responsibility of the cats into the hands of the public. That along with concerns about diseases persuaded the board to vote 3-0 to file the recommendation put forth by the Public Board of Health.

      "I think it's hard to go against the medical research and the statistics the Public Board of Health brought forward and Environmental Health, that they brought forward," Animal Control Board Member Sunny Hodge-Campbell said. "I don't feel like the plan was well laid out on how they were going to go about it- a lot of confusion. Different ordinances were involved."

      Another red flag to board members was how the TNR program would be paid for.

      "They had mentioned grants, you know, starting off from PetCo and PetSmart and then following grants the following years," Hodge-Campbell pointed out. "That is actually how Austin started off, but now Austin actually charges back to the city over $200,000 a year to the taxpayers to follow and maintain their program."

      Public forum gave citizens the opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns before the decision was made.

      Cupell added several organizations, including the National Humane Society, are in favor of TNR. She said a letter was sent to City Hall asking commissioners to take the program into serious consideration.

      "They faxed the letter over to the city council and to the mayor here just letting them know they really wanted them to consider this because it can be a fantastic program. They were in support of Trap-Neuter-Release being passed anywhere and specifically offering support to us."

      TPPS plans to give a TNR presentation to city commissioners in June.

      For more information on the Trap-Neuter-Release program, Cupell recommended people visitalleycatadvocates.org.