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Aiding felines: Fortunate Ferals earns grant from state
October 11, 2017

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A not-for-profit focused on helping to mitigate the local feral cat population has received a much needed grant to help the organization continue to trap, neuter, and return the felines.

Based out of Alva, Fortunate Ferals was chosen for the first time as one of 28 animal welfare organizations to receive the 2017 Florida Animal Friend grant. The grant is worth $15,000.

"It's going to help us access the low-cost spay and neuter clinics, instead of having to wait on the appointments at (Lee County) animal services," Glenda Sparnroft, president of Fortunate Ferals, said. "It's going to actually help us increase our spay and neuter services."

The grant is funded by the sales of the Florida Animal Friend License plates.

"I was just totally totally ecstatic," Sparnroft said of receiving the funding. "I couldn't believe we actually got the grant. It was fantastic."

Lee County is a haven for feral cat colonies, which Fortunate Ferals wants to get under control.

"Lee County has over 200,000 feral cats," Sparnroft said.

Fortunate Ferals has selected areas in Lee County where it spays and neuters.

"This grant was actually for specified areas," Sparnroft said. "It's the areas that most need us, like certain trailer parks. We have already taken a look at a few of the areas we are going to be working and it's just the matter of starting as soon as we can."

She noted that some areas are in Lehigh, which has had a feral cat problem for a while.

"There has been (a problem) for years," Sparnroft said.

Fortunate Ferals started as a non-profit in 2012. It relocated from New York.

"There was just an overwhelming need for spay and neuter for feral community cats," Sparnroft said.

The organization relies on grants, donations and fund raising to operate.

"What we do is trap, neuter and return," Sparnroft said. "That's where we go in, we trap the cats. We take them and get them spayed and neutered, and then they are returned back to the location where they were trapped. Their caretakers or feeders can continue to feed them and take care of them, but the cats cannot reproduce. Eventually, it will cut down on the population because there is no birth rates."

Though not a rescue, Fortunate Ferals works with others to find homes for lost cats.

"If we find friendly or stray animals, we work with a couple of refuges around Lee County. If they can help us by taking them and finding homes for them, then we will pull them off the street," Sparnroft said.

Hurricane Irma did impact the feral cat communities, which in turn affected Fortunate Ferals.

"A lot of the people actually evacuated or had to move," Sparnroft said. "Some of those people were actually feeding a feral cat colony outside their back door. When they move, there is nobody left to take care of them. We had to set up new feeders, find new locations."

A feral cat is a cat that is an offspring from a friendly or owned animal.

"Because they have been left outside and not accustomed to human touch, then they become scared of people and that's the way they survive," Sparnroft said. "They don't trust people enough to handle them. Eventually, if they have a common feeder all the time, they will become friendly to that one person,"

Sparnroft said it is very important to keep the feral cat population under control.

"It's extremely important to keep the cat population down because it is going to eliminate the euthanization rates in the shelters," Sparnroft said. "There is not enough homes now for the animals that are friendly. A lot of people pick up the kittens from the feral cats and try to socialize and try to find it a home. There is just too many animals already in shelters and rescue groups that we really don't need these extra cats."

For more information about Fortunate Ferals or its TNR program, contact 347-403-1674 or fortunateferals@gmail.com or visit online at www.fortunateferals.org.

The organization can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/trapneuterreturn.

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