College with cat problem recommits to 'trap and release' program

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A colony of feral cats is growing on a college campus, despite efforts to trap and neuter the felines.

Phoenix College was actually planning to end the "trap and release" program. But Monday, officials announced that they are recommitting to the program to handle the nearly two dozen feral cats roaming on campus.

Earlier in the day Monday, school officials  had announced that they were ending their trap and release program after eight years. Eileen Archibald of Phoenix College said a staff member was recently bitten, and they were concerned about public health and safety.

"We felt that we needed to try to find homes for them, or find another solution," says Archibald.

It's been an issue that has divided the community. The current trap and release program on campus was volunteer-based. Archibald admits it was not up to the standards necessary to successfully reduce the feral cat population.

In fact, she says the population has actually increased slightly over the past few years. Recently, several community members stepped up and adopted seven of the cats, upon hearing the trap and release program was ending.

The school had already been making plans to send the remaining cats to the Humane Society, which would mean an almost certain death for the un-adoptable animals.

But later Monday afternoon, Phoenix College sent out a news release, changing course on their plans, and recommitting to their trap and release program. The release cites "concern from the community" as one of the reasons for their decision to keep the cats on campus.

The Animal Defense League is also offering help and advice. "Make sure that it's a coordinated effort," says Karen Anderson of the ADL. "Make sure you know who's feeding the cats in the area, and make sure they're all working together to get those cats trapped, fixed, and returned as soon as possible."

The new and improved TNR on campus will include a staff member dedicated to the program, Archibald says. According to an internal memo, the school will also focus on the health of the cats, address fecal matter clean-up more aggressively, and start a community awareness program.