TAVARES – The mission of TNR Lake County is simple: to get stray cats off the streets, provide them with medical care, and hopefully to find them loving homes.
This week, the volunteers with TNR – which stands for Trap-Neuter-Return – stumbled across something that’s sadly all too common — a litter of kittens, with no mama cat in sight.
As it turns out, those kittens are very fortunate to have been discovered, since they’re all blind.
The TNR Lake County volunteers rescued the litter of kittens after discovering they all had badly infected eyes. That included “two kittens with severe single eye infections, and one kitten who appears to be blind in both eyes,” noted Whitney Luckhart, the president and founder of L.E.A.S.H. Inc., the parent organization of the TNR program.
“The three kittens will likely require surgery to remove the traumatized eyes,” she added.
But the good news, she said, is “All of the kittens will be available for adoption through the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services (division), once they are well.”
L.E.A.S.H. launched the Trap-Neuter-Return program on Sept. 1, in the hopes of avoiding the need for Animal Services to euthanatize stray cats. Instead, the cats are trapped, vaccinated, sterilized, ear-tipped, micro-chipped and returned to the outdoor area they were discovered in.
Because the cats are no longer able to reproduce, Luckhart said, the stray cat population will decrease.
“Our goal for the TNR program is to have fewer cats on the street,” Luckhart said. “Whenever possible, volunteers will remove socialized cats and kittens from the colony so they can be offered up for adoption.”
That applies to the blind kittens, she said, which will not be returned to the wild.
“Our volunteers recognized that these kittens were not candidates for TNR,” Luckhart said.
She added that the volunteers have been quite successful this month.
“Over the last two weeks, our volunteers have assessed six colonies in four cities across the county,” Luckhart noted.
She also noted that communities that have implemented TNR programs have seen a reduction in shelter intake and euthanasia.
“Our partnership with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services has been instrumental in the rapid development of our program,” she said. “We are able to work together for the best possible outcome for the animals. We are off to a strong start, but are always looking for volunteers and fosters.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can attend the TNR volunteer training session on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 1-3 p.m., at the Lake Tech’s Institute of Public Safety, located at 1565 Lane Park Cutoff in Tavares.
L.E.A.S.H., Inc., is a non-profit agency based in Lake County, which promotes projects and programs to assist homeless pets.
For more information about volunteering with TNR or donating funds to their mission, call 352-507-TNR8.
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