Published: Nov 06, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Nov 06, 2012 03:35 PM
Shirleys Animal Ministry in southern Wake County helps homeless women and low-income families care for their pets.
Its my lifes work, and (I) settled on calling it an animal ministry because the name is non-threatening and comforting, said founder Shirley Phillips, who created the group in 2004.
Shirleys Animal Ministry helps people pay for pets basic needs, including spaying and neutering.
Last year, Phillips received donations and grant funding to provide about $15,000 in pet food to families in Fuquay-Varina and other southern parts of the county. To qualify for help, pet owners must agree to have their dog or cat sterilized.
The nonprofit has treated more than 500 cats and dogs, some of which were feral. Phillips estimates that more than 1,000 kitten and puppy litters have been prevented as a result of the ministrys efforts.
Phillips and Dr. Marty Edwards, owner of the VetMobile in Cary, celebrated National Feral Cat Day Oct. 16. They provided free spay and neuter surgeries for cats that were brought in traps and carriers.
Most of the cats were from downtown Fuquay-Varina.
Through this effort, Phillips and Edwards aimed to raise awareness about the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) ordinance passed by the Wake County Commissioners in June. The rule calls for humanely trapping stray cats, sterilizing them and releasing them where they were found.
While the cat is sedated, it receives a rabies vaccination and its left ear is clipped as a marker that it has been through the TNR process that recognizes cats can live in a colony with a caretaker, said Edwards, who thinks the TNR method is preferable to euthanizing feral cats.
Killing cats doesnt work, Phillips said. It creates a vacuum effect; cats are out there and will come if the conditions of food, water and shelter are met.
I want people to take care of the animals they have, she added.
Phillips tries to place adoptable kittens from feral cats with families through the SPCA, where she volunteers twice a week.
Cat populations can be kept stable by TNR, she said. Consider the benefits of cats: They can keep mice away, and once a colony is established, other cats wont join it.
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