When it comes to animal rescue efforts, it can sometimes seem as though groups are competing against one another for support and potential adopters. So many organizations are doing great things and have pretty much the same goal; wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for everyone to work together in a more collaborative way?
Enter “Trap, Neuter, Return” (TNR) in Jersey City. This initiative is a joint effort between a number of different organizations and individual community members in the area, all with the shared objective of improving the lives of street cats by neutering, vaccinating, and returning feral cats to their own colonies to reduce population growth. What’s more, they are committed to facilitating the adoptions of domesticated and socialized cats to good homes. The ladies and gents driving these efforts are equally focused on bringing TNR education and awareness to the people of Jersey City and surrounding areas to grow advocate numbers and garner support for these fantastic initiatives. How cool is that?
Groups involved in TNR in Jersey City include the Hudson County Animal League (HCAL), Companion Animal Trust/Neighborhood Feral Cat Initiative, and PAD Paws Rescue among others. I hit up one of HCAL’s Saturday adoption events (see below schedule) to talk to some volunteers and find out more about how residents can both facilitate TNR efforts and get involved themselves.
“The most important thing is simply being educated and understanding,” says volunteer Lisa Coons, “People aren’t aware that grants exist and that programs are out there to help TNR succeed. As far as volunteering goes, we need help with things as simple as transporting cats and kittens from places like Bayonne and even just bringing them inside for adoption events. Fundraisers, like our Tricky Trays, are another great way to get involved in helping TNR. We also need volunteers just to help spread the word about our work and of course, to foster.”
Cats and kittens in attendance at these weekly adoption events are of all shapes and sizes and from all kinds of situations: hoarding, stray, and just simple abandonment. The organizations rely on their volunteers to help with socialization of formerly-feral kittens to facilitate adoptability, as well as to provide the 1:1 time needed to properly assess the personalities of adoption hopefuls. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the toughest things that these groups have to deal with are “difficult-to-show” felines. According to volunteer Neelima Sapre, “A cat might be a complete sweetheart in a home setting, but proceeds to hiss up a storm once placed in a crate or otherwise stressful situation. It’s not fair to judge an adoptable strictly based on how they appear at an event, but unfortunately it happens a lot. Patience is the key.” (Moral here: don’t judge a cat by its cover.)
No matter where in Jersey City you live, chances are there are TNR initiatives happening in your area. According to volunteer Gurjinder Cheema, targeted TNR efforts typically go by zip code. “I’m currently working in the Lafayette TNR project, zipcode 07304,” he says, “And I’d be more than happy to take volunteers-in-training along on a mission to show them the ropes and give some hands-on experience.”
I also got a chance to speak with Kathleen O’Malley, the Director of TNR Education at the NYC Feral Cat Initiative and President of the Hudson County Animal League. She summed up the need for awareness and contribution to TNR quite nicely, “If everybody in Jersey City took care of spaying and neutering community cats in their own backyards or at their own businesses, then we wouldn’t have these issues with so many kittens being born outside.”
If you want to get involved in TNR but don’t know where to start, check out the organizations’ websites at the below links to determine which is up your alley. Have a taste for adventure? PAD Paws Rescue’s “white-knuckle rescue missions in very hazardous construction zones and high-traffic areas like the Holland Tunnel” might be your best bet. Live in the Lafayette neighborhood and want to kick start some rescue missions? Carol McNichol of the Companion Animal Trust provides hands-on TNR training (to volunteers only).
GET IN TOUCH
Hudson County Animal League (HCAL)
Companion Animal Trust/Neighborhood Feral Cat Initiative
PAD Paws Rescue
NOT LOST JC
ADOPTION EVENT SCHEDULE (Fussy Friends Pet Supply)
Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm – Hudson County Animal League (HCAL)
Sundays from 12pm to 4pm – Companion Animal Trust
Mondays from 5pm to 7pm – PAD Paws Rescue