AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A new proposal made at a recent commission meeting to more humanely reduce the number of stray cats in Augusta.

Best Friends Animal Society is partnering with Augusta Animal Services to reduce the number of cats being put down in the city.

“We don’t want to be negligent of the issues that these cats cause people,” said Carrie Ducote, national director of the Shelter Collaborative Program at Best Friends Animal Society. “They can be serious nuisances, and we completely understand that.” 

Carrie Ducote serves as National Director of the Shelter Collaborative Program at Best Friends. 

She tells us that Augusta is number one in the state of GA and number 33 nationally for the greatest number of euthanizations.

“We just recognize that the best way to solve those nuisance behaviors from the cat is not to remove them,” said Ducote. “Instead, to work with the people who are feeding the cats and work with the people who are having issues with the cats…get them sterilized, get them vaccinated, make sure that they’re not having any more kittens and that we’re protecting public health.”  

Last week, Ducote proposed a “Trap, Neuter and Return” plan to help reduce stray cat euthanizations.

Aiken County Animal Shelter has been using the program since 2017. Shelter Manager Bobby Arthurs tells us the practice has drastically reduced the number of shelter cats, as well as those roaming outside.

“So, there’s no way you’re going to trap and euthanize your way out of this,” said Bobby Arthurs, manager of the Aiken County Animal Shelter.

Still, people in the Augusta community wonder if releasing cats is the solution.

“That’s a discussion that was brought to us last week,” said mayor pro-tem Brandon Garrett. “It’s an interesting program, especially when they’re coming to the table with funding to help facilitate it. I have gotten a lot of pushback from the community in regards to that.”

For now, the proposal has returned to the public safety committee for review.

“A community’s got to embrace this,” said Arthurs. “These cats are here, they can live around us. We can spay and neuter- stop all the kittens being born. And, over time, it will decrease the population. So, it’s so important to have.”

Commissioners plan to return to the TNR proposal on April 11.