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Cat roundup tries to hold back tide of animal overpopulation

Lisa Shepherd with some of the feral cats she rounded up on Old Union Road.

Aug. 1, 2019 – Catching feral cats is not for the faint of heart, but Lisa Shepherd does it the smart way. She has eight traps that she baits with tasty food and leaves until the cats venture in.

On Wednesday of this week, she was at a location on Old Union Road in Dunlap where several dozen cats were living at homes on both sides of the road. The kind-hearted people in the homes had simply fed strays and they multiplied.

I started the Dunlap Neuter Scooter to provide free transport to a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in McMinnville,” Shepherd explained. “But then I ventured out on my own to do some trap and release.”

It is a temporary arrangement, holding back the tide of multiplying cats and dogs, until the Sequatchie County Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic can get open.

This week, Shepherd had captured five cats at a trailer park in downtown Dunlap and 12 at the Old Union location, but she would make more trips to check the traps she set out before the week was over.

Captured animals are transported to one of three area clinics to be spayed or neutered and then returned to their “colony,” or given to farmers who want a barn cat. It mainly depends on whether or not the people who have been feeding them want them brought back.

Once the Sequatchie County Low-Cost Spay & Neuter gets open, people can bring their own pets there, and I'll just concentrate on trap and release,” she said.

The Sequatchie County facility has been long in coming, but the location adjoining the Save-A-Lot grocery store on SR 111 is finally completed and ready to open as soon as it has been fully equipped. Saturday, Aug. 3, volunteers will hold an Open House, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., allowing interested people to see what it looks like, and accompanying that will be a hot dog fundraiser.

Right now, all funding is coming through the Animal Welfare Network, which is a 501c3 non-profit managed by Jean Bryant. The Sequatchie County Commission recently approved appropriations of $5,000 for the second year in a row to the Network.

The money is specifically to help Sequatchie County residents get their animals spayed and neutered,” Bryant said today. “So the clinic can not receive the funds until they're actually spaying and neutering.”

Once the clinic opens up, the Animal Welfare Network will stop transporting pets to other counties and just focus on catch and release of feral animals.

We're really hoping to get that clinic open,” Bryant said. “It will make a huge difference in the overpopulation of animals in the county.”