Research Library

Return-to-field: Municipal shelter sees sharp declines in feline intake/euthanasia after eight years


Study

“The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky,” published in the journal Animals, 2020. Complete article available (open access) online here.


Overview

This study [1] examined the results of return-to-field (RTF) and targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs in Jefferson County, KY, as measured by key shelter metrics.


Over eight years, feline euthanasia at Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) declined by 94.1% and feline admissions declined by 42.8%. These results are, broadly speaking, comparable to those documented in studies of TNR and RTF programs in municipalities across the U.S. [2–4].


Key points

Over an eight-year period, a combined total of 24,697 cats were trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, and returned as part of an RTF program at LMAS. This program was operated in conjunction with an existing targeted TNR program operated by a non-profit organization.

Over eight years, feline euthanasia at Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) declined by 94.1% and feline admissions declined by 42.8%.

In addition to the reductions in both feline intake and euthanasia, the shelter’s live-release rate (i.e., the percentage of sheltered animals that leave the facility alive, either through adoption, return-to-field or transfer to a rescue group) increased by 147.6% over the same period. The average length of stay for all cats at LMAS declined by 61.1%, from 17.5 days to 6.8 days; average length of stay for those cats admitted as “strays” declined 63.0%, from 17.0 to 6.3 days.

As has been demonstrated in other studies of similar large-scale programs [3–5], the general health of cats involved in Louisville’s targeted TNR program was good; just 337 of the 31,075 cats (o.8%) were not sterilized upon enrollment due to health concerns. (Unfortunately, comparable data from LMAS were unavailable for its RTF program.)


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References

  1. Spehar, D.D.; Wolf, P.J. The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Animals 2020, 20.

  2. Johnson, K.L.; Cicirelli, J. Study of the effect on shelter cat intakes and euthanasia from a shelter neuter return project of 10,080 cats from March 2010 to June 2014. PeerJ 2014, 2, e646.

  3. Levy, J.K.; Isaza, N.M.; Scott, K.C. Effect of high-impact targeted trap-neuter-return and adoption of community cats on cat intake to a shelter. The Veterinary Journal 2014, 201, 269–274.

  4. Spehar, D.D.; Wolf, P.J. Integrated Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return Programs Result in Reductions of Feline Intake and Euthanasia at Six Municipal Animal Shelters. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 2019, 6.

  5. Scott, K.C.; Levy, J.K.; Crawford, P.C. Characteristics of free-roaming cats evaluated in a trap-neuter-return program. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2002, 221, 1136–1138.