One evening, after staying late at the Baylor Law School, law student Amanda Harris noticed many feral cats roaming the parking lot and the adjacent green space.
She began to ponder safe ways to limit the number of stray cats on campus. In front of her computer that night, Harris did some research. She learned that a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program first traps the feral cats, gets them neutered and spayed and a rabies vaccination, and returned to where they were picked up. A list of TNR cats is kept so that the volunteers can keep a watchful eye on each of the felines in the program.
In the fall, Harris set out to bring a TNR program to Baylor. She contacted Katie Thiele, who, along with Liz Weddell, had already formed an organization called Laws for Paws. The organization's members examine animal rights issues, such as animal abuse cases, but also perform community service, including volunteer work at local animal shelters. Together, the girls concluded that Laws for Paws was the right organization to run a TNR program.
"I think a TNR campus program is important because it not only provides care for these animals, but also educates the community on feral cats," Harris said. "Through TNR and Laws for Paws, these cats can find new homes."
Because feral cats are wild, they cannot be adopted and placed in homes domestically. TNR allows these cats to live in the same environment they would already be living in, while also eliminating the concern of new feral kittens.
Laws for Paws held it first TNR on St. Patrick's Day. Volunteers trapped six cats, which were taken to the Humane Society for spaying/neutering. The cats were released March 19. The cost to spay/neuter the cats was $250, which was paid for with donations.
"We definitely have many more cats to be trapped. Even after our six were trapped, we saw more roaming around," said law student Linda Horng. "We are looking for cat food donations or monetary donations for future TNR. Alumni can also help by coming forth as potential fosters or adopters for friendly cats or kittens we may catch. Even alumni who live in Austin, Dallas, or Houston can help in this regard, because many law students regularly visit those cities over the weekends."
"I look forward to having the program established and the peace of mind that provides," Harris said. "Currently, when we have cold nights I worry about the cats and pray they have found some sort of shelter I feel a sense of duty to the cats as we share a campus."