Return to Field

Return to Field - Learning Track

Few programs have revolutionized sheltering as thoroughly as return to field (RTF). It’s based on a simple idea: Healthy community cats who are thriving where they are aren’t well-served by admission to a shelter. They’re not homeless; the community is their home. The best way to care for them is to sterilize, vaccinate, ear-tip and return them to that home. This approach has its roots in traditional trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, and may involve the shelter performing the surgery itself, or partnering with a TNR group. Best of all, communities that have pursued this course have not seen an increase in citizen complaints, intake at nearby shelters, or animals found dead in the field. Reducing the strain on the shelter system also frees up resources that can be used for more spay/neuter surgeries. 

Still not convinced? Check out the following content brought to you by Maddie's Institute® and experts in this Million Cat Challenge initiative.  

Audience(s): Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team 

Webcast: Return to Field - Animal Shelters and a New Approach to Healthy Unowned Cats


Scott Trebatoski
April 2013

Sterilize, vaccinate, and return healthy un-owned shelter cats to the location of origin.
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Webcast: Making the Case for a Paradigm Shift in Community Cat Management, Part One

Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM
June 2013

Are common cat sheltering and animal control policies helping cats? Are they humane? Effective? Not according to Dr. Kate Hurley, Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. It's time, she says, for shelters to consider radical solutions to the suffering, stress, illness and death that are the fate of so many cats in our nation's animal shelters, including an array of positive alternative approaches such as TNR or not taking them in at all if we can't offer a lifesaving outcome.
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View Resources for Getting Started

Webcast: Making the Case for a Paradigm Shift in Community Cat Management, Part Two

Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM; Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Rich Avanzino; Jon Cicirelli; and Holly Sizemore
July 2013

In Part Two of Making the Case for a Paradigm Shift in Community Cat Management, Maddie's Institute® will present some of the nation's leading experts on animal sheltering and community cats in a comprehensive Q&A panel discussion on the information in Dr. Hurley's webcast.
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View Resources for Getting Started

Article: Feline Shelter Intake Reduction Programs FAQs

Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM and Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM
January 2013

Historically, many shelters have routinely admitted more healthy cats than could be placed into adoptive homes. While the intention behind this practice has been to protect both cats and communities, the result has been chronically over-crowded shelters and the deaths of many millions of cats. A holistic approach to unwanted and free-roaming cats allows shelters to focus on positive, life-saving programs that account for the needs of pets, wildlife and people in our communities. This article includes the most frequently asked questions about these new approaches.
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How-To: The Feral Freedom Guide

Best Friends Animal Society
An indispensable resource from Best Friends on getting started saving community cats, relying on proven models and strategies from communities around the U.S.
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Example Program: Case Study – Duval County

Rick DuCharme
A step-by-step description of how City of Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services (JACPS) and First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP) worked together to save community cats in their town!
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Legal Consideration

Tools: Advocacy Toolkit

Alley Cat Allies
Check out this toolkit to learn best how to educate yourself about your community, as well as, the policies and ordinances that affect cats and how to advocate for change!
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Tools: Action Kit – Advocating for TNR in Your Community

Best Friends Animal Society
If helping community cats is what you want to do, you can get started with this guide to advocating for, starting, and operating a trap/neuter/return (TNR) program in your community!
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How-To: Managing Community Cats – A Guide for Municipal Leaders

The Humane Society of the United States
Cat advocates might be on board with innovations in community cat management, but policymakers and politicians probably aren’t. This invaluable guide from HSUS can address their concerns, educate them about research, and guide them to strategies that work for cats and communities.
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Article: How to Work with Municipalities to Save Community Cats

Rick DuCharme, Founder and Director of First Coast No More Homeless Pets
August 2012

The fact is that if municipal or contracted private animal shelters are where the cats are dying, then you must work with the shelter if you want to save their lives.
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Article: Community Cat Advocacy through a Lawmaker’s Eyes – Tips from Jennifer Fearing

Jennifer Fearing, California Senior State Director for the Humane Society of United States
August 2012

You can be as relentlessly activist as you want to be, but you'll only be successful if the decision-makers and people who work with them can be persuaded by you to embrace what you're proposing. Jennifer Fearing shares her tips!
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Article: Tips for Working with Local Lawmakers - An Interview with Ryan Clinton

Ryan Clinton, Former Assistant Solicitor General for the State of Texas and Founder of FixAustin.org
August 2012

Ryan Clinton says the single biggest mistake animal advocates can make is: going to their city hall, making a presentation, being roundly ignored, and concluding from that experience that a problem cannot be fixed. In this article, he provides his tips for action.
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