Under control: Spay/neuter program to help town maintain feline population


Crothersville is receiving help with controlling the cat population.

Cathi Eagan, founder and director of CanINE Express Transport Project, recently shared information with the town council about grants she and Red Sky Rescue in Medora received from Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana to help reduce the number of stray cats.

The grants will provide 60 vouchers for stray cats to be spayed or neutered at no cost to the town.

Once 20 cats are caught in traps, they will be taken to Dr. Kristin Tormoehlen at Brownstown Veterinary Clinic to be spayed or neutered. She also will give them a three-year rabies vaccination and put a notch in their ear so when they are released in town, people will know they are fixed.

The town has four traps to catch stray cats, Eagan has some from the Brown County Humane Society, and a couple of residents have offered their traps to use. Eagan also is providing food and stainless steel cups for water.

The cats will be stored in those cages or plastic crates until Feb. 22, when Eagan will pick them up and transport them to Brownstown.

They will be returned to Crothersville on Feb. 23 to stay overnight before being released where they were caught.

That will be done all over again in March and April. If all of the vouchers are used by April, Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana will provide more.

“The more you do, the more that your cat problem is going to start dwindling down,” Eagan said. “From one cat and that cat’s offspring, over a period of two years, it can be over 12,000 cats because each cat keeps having a litter. If you are having a problem here, it’s only going to get worse until that problem is tackled.”

The cats brought back into town may still be strays, but they won’t be procreating and multiplying, Eagan said. People also could choose to adopt them and keep them in their home.

“If you’re cutting down your number of animals, eventually, things are going to be a whole lot better than they currently are,” she said.

Council members agreed this is an important program to get started in town.

“It may take a few years, it may not take that long, but it’s got to help,” Councilman Bob Lyttle said. “We’ve got to start somewhere, and then maybe later on, if (Eagan) keeps working at it, we might find places to ship these (cats) to. I feel that we need to do this. It’s a start.”

Eagan, who lives in Brown County, retired in 2011 after 34 years of working at Indiana University. During that time, she also was an animal welfare volunteer.

In 2004, she started the transport project, which involves taking stray and unwanted animals from partnership shelters and rescue groups in Indiana and transporting them to partnership shelters in New England, Cleveland, Ohio, and northwest Illinois.

The project has resulted in more than 10,900 Indiana shelter dogs being transported and placed in adoptive homes. Since adding cats to the mix at the beginning of the year, they have transported nearly 200.

Red Sky Rescue has sent 1,900 dogs on transport, which is the most of all of the partnership shelters, Eagan said.

Because of spaying and neutering, she said New England shelters have reached a point where they are virtually empty. They mainly have pit bulls or pit bull mixes, so Eagan focuses on taking other breeds to those shelters so they have a variety.

“They do get adopted very quickly,” she said. “The same thing is starting to happen with cats, too, now. That’s why they are asking us for cats.”

A couple of years ago, Eagan started volunteering once a week at Red Sky Rescue. Seeing the amount of dogs brought to shelter director Ruth Riley by the Jackson County animal control officer, Eagan realized there is an overpopulation problem.

The problem, however, is not limited to here. It’s an issue around the state, she said.

In Brown County, for example, the spay and neuter program has resulted in less animals coming into its shelter.

“It saves municipal towns and councils and cities a lot of money for taking care of the animal overpopulation problem,” Eagan said. “Spay and neuter is the crux of our problem throughout the country except in those areas that have done their thing.”

In April 2016 at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour, Eagan met with representatives from Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana, Humane Society of the United States Indiana and the county animal control officer to discuss what could be done to address the overpopulation of stray and unwanted animals.

Nothing happened from that meeting, so in December she looked into programs available through Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana.

During the first transport, 29 dogs and cats were spayed or neutered at a clinic in Cloverdale and returned to their owners. Eagan said it worked well, but it took an hour and a half to get there.

She then contacted Tormoehlen about getting involved, and she fixed 15 animals in January. Eagan then learned of Crothersville’s cat problem, and Tormoehlen again offered her time to help out.

Eagan said Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana also offers the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program. If a Hoosier household falls within one of the state or federal assistance programs or income guidelines, a dog or cat could get spayed or neutered for $20. It would be another $20 for a three-year rabies vaccination.

Eagan said she could look into grant funding so there would be no cost.

“I don’t want you guys to have to pay anything. We want it to be successful for you,” she said. “We’re trying to do it at no cost to your town, trying to help the cats out, trying to help the community out. What we really need everybody to do is spread the word about the importance of spaying and neutering because that will take care of the problem. It will take a little while, but it will take care of the problem.”

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Crothersville is participating in a free trap, spay/neuter and release program to help regulate the cat population in town.

The town needs to trap the cats and have them ready for pickup by Feb. 22. The cats will be neutered or spayed, receive a three-year rabies vaccine and be ear tipped for recognition. They will be returned to town Feb. 23 to stay overnight before being released where they were picked up.

If residents have a cat problem in their neighborhood, they are advised to contact Crothersville officials so live traps can be set.

The town is looking to trap 20 cats per month until further notice.

To provide input on where to place traps, stop by Crothersville Town Hall at 111 E. Howard St. or call 812-793-2311. Fliers also are available about the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program for Indiana households with limited incomes.