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St. Lawrence County cat population has exploded

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The cat population has exploded in St. Lawrence County.

“Some call it a problem. I call it a crisis,” said Bea Schermerhorn, founder of Spay/ Neuter/ Now, Hammond. “Shelters in St. Lawrence County are overloaded.”

Shelters across the county have reported an influx of feral and domestic cats into shelters, she said.

“There is no research in New York State or St. Lawrence County,” said Ms. Schermerhorn. “But if you ask any shelter in St. Lawrence County they will tell you it’s a problem.”

“Many shelters do not have room for them,” said St. Lawrence Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animcals volunteer Karen L. Cunningham. “People from all over the county go from shelter to shelter. When shelters turn away animals, many are left in the streets or at a farm because owners cannot afford to take care of them.”

According to Ms. Cunningham, cats abandoned in the wild become feral after the first generation. The number of feral cats in the United States is estimated to be in the tens of millions, according to the ASPCA website.

“If you saw feral and loose dogs around you would be concerned, but when someone sees a cat, there is less concern, but they can be just as dangerous,” said Ms. Schermerhorn.

Feral cats carry and spread diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus, also known as feline AIDS, leukemia and rabies.

“It’s not a good life for the cat,” Ms. Cunningham said. “They have a short life span and carry risk of spreading disease to each other and to humans.”

Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Schermerhorn agreed there is only one solution to the problem.

“Eradication doesn’t work,” said Ms. Schermerhorn. “The only thing that is proven to work is spaying and neutering. Spaying-neutering helps long-term but it isn’t cheap. But if you’re just treating the symptom, you’ll never take care of the problem.”

The Spay/ Neuter/ Now is a non-profit, grassroots organization with a mobile clinic dedicated to reducing the pet overpopulation.

The mobile clinic charges a flat fee of $50 for cats that includes the surgery, rabies and distemper vaccinations, pain medication, a flea treatment of Advantage and treatment for ear mites.

SNN has agreements with partner organizations such as the St. Lawrence Valley SPCA, which gives a $10 discount at SNN clinics and a $10 voucher for those who qualify (home addresses of St. Lawrence County except Massena).

“It’s a combined effort through education, cooperation between veterinarians, non-profits, municipalities and community members in general,” said SNN General Manager Kevin T. Mace. “Right now, we need to start with cooperation among shelters and education.”

The organization can be contacted at 324-5969 or spaynetuernow@yahoo.com.

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