Spehar, D. D. (2015). Unowned Cat Management in the State of Ohio: Elements of Best Practice in Public-Private Collaborative Efforts. Student Thesis and Capstone Projects. Paper 1.
A contentious debate over the management of free-roaming cat populations is ongoing. Nevertheless, disparate groups of stakeholders share a common goal of fewer community cats. Unowned cat management typically necessitates a choice between utilization of lethal or nonlethal measures. Research has indicated strong public support for employment of non-lethal methods, like trap-neuter-return (TNR). Collaborative TNR programs are experiencing success in a growing number of communities. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify new or underutilized public-private collaborative practices, and associated elemental factors, that have the potential to be used as—or incorporated into—templates of best practice for the nonlethal management of unowned cats in Ohio. An additional objective was to uncover impediments to the implementation of collaborative programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with stakeholders as part of a qualitative approach. Participants representing ten humane societies/shelters, four county animal control agencies, a TNR-cat rescue group and a municipal government located in various parts of Ohio were interviewed over an eight-week period. A prevailing willingness on the part of stakeholders to collaborate and widespread support for non-lethal methods of unowned cat control were discovered. Moreover, a majority of stakeholders cited access to low-cost spay-neuter surgeries as essential to the initiation of TNR programs; multiple participants described lack of nearby access to such services as an impediment to conducting TNR. In addition, local ordinances preventing TNR were cited as substantial hindrances. Overall, significant potential within Ohio for expansion of collaborative non-lethal management programs for community cats seems to exist. Mitigation of impediments uncovered in this study will likely play an important role in leveraging this opportunity.