Dougherty Co. addresses feral, free-roaming cat problem

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – Animal control officers are asking for the public’s help to solve Dougherty County’s feral and free-roaming cat problem.

The Dougherty County Police Department (DCPD) Animal Control unit is hosting a pet food donation drive during the month of December, but they are using it as an opportunity to educate people on the feral and free-roaming cat population.

Dr. Fred Freeland is the veterinarian at the East Albany Animal Clinic.
Dr. Fred Freeland is the veterinarian at the East Albany Animal Clinic.(WALB/Zoom)

“It’s bad and gets worse every day,” said Dr. Fred Freeland, the veterinarian at the East Albany Animal Clinic.

Freeland said there are estimates on how bad the problem is.

“We may have 10,000 feral cats in Albany/Dougherty County area,” Freeland said. “These cats frequently congregate in unsafe areas. Restaurants, apartment complexes, (and) businesses where there’s a kindhearted employee.”

Wendy Howell is Dougherty County’s public information officer.

“By the time they call DCPD Animal Control, there are 30 cats at this point because all the other cats have come because there’s food, and then they start populating,” Howell said.

They said the cheapest way to solve this is to spay and neuter the cats, but it’s not that simple.

“To make a dent in that population, that estimate would be spay/neuter 5,000 a year,” Freeland said. “That’s an extraordinary number.”

The East Albany Animal Clinic spays and neuters feral and free-roaming cats at a lower cost: $30 for a feral neuter and $40 for a feral spay. Both include rabies vaccination and ear-tipping.

They used to do 500 of these surgeries a year, but this year, they have only done between 200 and 250 because of finances and fewer volunteers.

Wendy Howell is the public information officer for Dougherty County.
Wendy Howell is the public information officer for Dougherty County.(WALB/Zoom)

While DCPD’s Animal Control unit is asking for donations of cat food right now, they are also asking for donations of money to help pay to spay and neuter these animals.

Freeland said if you feel the need to feed a stray cat, you should take responsibility for the animal moving forward.

“You’re contributing to the reproduction of that cat,” he said. “So, the first time you put out a bowl of food, your next step is to pick up the phone to call to get a surgery scheduled.”

You can drop off pet food or money to donate at the Dougherty County Police Department on Habersham Road or at the East Albany Animal Clinic on East Broad Avenue.

DCPD’s Animal Control is not trapping any cats right now because of a shortage of manpower.

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