AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta commissioners are considering a program to reduce the number of cats being put down in the city.

The Cat Community Program would provide services to capture, neuter, vaccinate and release cats.

One of the groups pushing for this is Best Friends Animal Society.

“There are many, many more cats- and dogs, but mostly cats- dying here than anywhere else in the state,” said Carrie Ducote, National Director of the Shelter Collaborative Program at Best Friends Animal Society.

Ducote says Best Friends Animal Society wants to help Augusta Animal services change this statistic.

“We’re gonna work with the people who are having issues with the cats to make sure that the cats are able to leave them alone,” said Ducote. “The majority of the time, the issues they are having with the cats- fighting, yelling, spaying… A lot of that is sexually-driven behavior. So when we’re sterilizing them, a lot of the time the issues they are having are solved just through sterilization.”

Still, some Augustans are concerned about how a program like this will affect our ecosystem.

“At what expense are we saving the cat?” said Ruth Mead. “So I like to think of biodiversity. If you’re looking at the ecology in the balance of our natural ecosystem, we need all of our species. Cats have been known to be instrumental in the extinction of 63 species on this planet.”

“I agree with them that cats are dangerous to native populations and that’s why we need fewer of them,” said Ducote. “That’s why we need to work together to get these cats sterilized and implement a program that’s proven to reduce cat population, rather than what we have been doing, which is not working to reduce their population in the community.”

Ducote says they did a survey of 300 Richmond County residents and 60 percent were in support of the program. She added that more than 150 constituents have reached out to their commissioner to express support.

Mead tells us she hopes they can work on a solution for everyone.

“I would think that maybe a compromise would be if we allow our animal services to do the job that they do,” said Mead. “[And] those of us that feel comfortable calling animal services could still call them.”

“There are pros and cons to this particular program, but anything is worth a try,” said Augusta Commissioner Tony Lewis. “I feel like we won’t be stuck with it if the ordinance dictates that it’s only for a three-year period.”

The commission accepted an ordinance revision proposal around 3pm Tuesday, which will allow the Cat Community Program to begin.