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BARCS Participates in Baltimore Community Cats Project

Monday, July 1st

Best Friends Animal Society® in partnership with PetSmart Charities®, the largest funder of companion animal-welfare efforts in North America, is launching a new project in Baltimore for the humane control of the city’s free-roaming, community cat population.

PetSmart Charities is providing $1 million to national animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society, which will lead a public-private partnership called the Baltimore Community Cats Project. Best Friends will work with Baltimore Animal Rescue and Control (BARCS) and other local Best Friends network partner organizations to implement a comprehensive Trap-Neuter-Return program to reduce the breeding of free-roaming cats, which will in turn help decrease the number of cats entering the city’s shelter system. 

Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, is a nationally-proven, comprehensive management plan in which homeless, free-roaming cats, commonly referred to as “community cats,” are humanely trapped, evaluated and sterilized by a licensed veterinarian, vaccinated against rabies, and ear-tipped for identification purposes before being returned to their original location.

The program will utilize $1 million in the next three years to reach the following goals:  

  • Spay/neuter 3,500 cats per year for the next three years.
  • At the end of the first year, achieve a reduction in shelter feline euthanasia by 25 percent.
  • At the end of the second year, achieve a 10 percent reduction in shelter intake.
  • At the end of the third year, achieve a 35 percent increase in live release rate of Baltimore shelter populations.

 "PetSmart Charities is excited to collaborate with Best Friends Animal Society, the City of Baltimore, BARCS and the trappers, caretakers and residents of Baltimore in this innovative, effective approach to managing and humanely reducing the City's free-roaming cat population,” said Jan Wilkins, executive director of PetSmart Charities, Inc.]

Holly Sizemore, Best Friends Animal Society director of national community programs and services, said:  “Best Friends Animal Society is very excited to launch this important project which will help the shelter in Baltimore take care of their community cats.”

Best Friends will use funding from the PetSmart Charities grant to hire a full-time shelter coordinator and a full-time trapper/transport coordinator. The coordinators and trappers will work together to spay/neuter and vaccinate the cats entering the shelter and then return them to where they were found. The next step will be to identify the other community cats in that area and, using TNR, get other cats in the colony sterilized as well.

“TNR is an alternative to the ‘trap and kill’ policies that have traditionally been employed by animal control agencies to address cat over-population and nuisance complaint situations,” Sizemore said. “Lethal control repeatedly has been proven to be ineffective, cost-prohibitive and publicly unpalatable. Not only will more cats’ lives be saved, but the number of cats entering the shelter will decrease.”

The PetSmart Charities grant, in addition to funding the shelter and trapping coordinators, will provide funding for several tools including spay/neuter surgeries, transportation vehicles, marketing materials to inform the community, etc

Sizemore said Best Friends Animal Society, along with other national animal-welfare organizations and thousands of people at the grassroots level utilize TNR as the best and humane way to control feral cat populations.  This proven program accomplishes the following: 


  • TNR promotes public health by reducing the number of unvaccinated cats.
  • Sterilizing community cats alleviates nuisance propensities, thus reducing complaints from community members.

TNR programs often are supported financially by nonprofit organizations, foundations and charitable individuals. They do not rely solely on taxpayers for funding.