Shelter puts plan in place to fix Mercer County's stray cat problem





SHARPSVILLE, Pa. (WKBN) – Mercer County has a cat problem — the number of stray cats is growing quickly.

People in the community are starting a catch and release program to spay and neuter cats in an effort to slow those numbers down.

Volunteers with the Shenango Valley Shelter said they get calls every day about the problem. So with a donation from the Shenango Valley Foundation, they’re starting this program.

There are close to 1,000 feral cats running around Mercer County, estimates Debbie Shaulis, with Pet Solutions.

“There are some people who are feeding the cats, but they’re not spaying or neutering them and they keep reproducing and making more unwanted cats,” she said.

Her group is going to catch the animals and take them to be spayed or neutered.

“We have volunteers going out, catching the cats, bringing them to Tails for Hope to be spayed or neutered. The cats are also checked for leukemia or AIDS,” said Duane Piccirilli, chairman of the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter.

If the cats have a disease, they will be euthanized so it doesn’t spread and the cat doesn’t suffer. If not, they’ll be released back where they were found.

Volunteers said they’ve gotten backlash for releasing them, though.

“Ideally, we would have a shelter for all of the animals, but that’s just not the case,” Piccirilli said.

The group is going to start in Sharpsville, where they say stray cats have been an ongoing problem.

Determining where they set the traps will mostly be based on where people keep feeding them — something Debbie said is part of the issue.

She said people feed them, attracting more animals to that area, but don’t do anything else to take care of them.

“In the long run, it’s just cheaper for you to spay or neuter that cat that comes to your house than it is to buy food for all of the litters that that cat is going to produce,” Shaulis said.
    
She said after they hit Sharpsville, they will try to go through some trailer parks and move onto other communities.

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