There are a lot of free-roaming and feral cats in Hillsborough County -- roughly 200,000 of them, according to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
The clashing ideas over what to do with all those cats will come to a head next week.
Many say the only humane way to reduce those numbers is through TNR, which stands for "Trap, Neuter, Release."
That's what the county's new head of animal services wants to try. But others say it won't work, and it's not good public policy.
Both sides will plead their case at next week's meeting of the Hillsborough County Commission.
Hillsborough Animal Services director Ian Hallett is proposing a government-funded "Community Cat Pilot Project." In the plan. 2,000 cats that would be otherwise be euthanized would instead be micro-chipped, tested for disease, then turned over to a rescue for sterilization and release.
"Our goal is they're all vaccinated and fixed to minimize and control that population," said Terri Romano, operations manager for the Animal Coalition of Tampa, which is rallying support for the plan.
Proponents plan to wear green shirts to Wednesday's meeting that read "Be the Way Home," encouraging life for these felines.
ACT already does Trap Neuter and Release, sterilizing thousands of cats along with the Humane Society.
"It is a humane solution to addressing the problem," Romano said.
The plan faces significant opposition, though.
"TNR does not work in a county the size of Hillsborough," said Dr. Christy Layton, President of the Hillsborough County Veterinary Medical Society.
The HCVMS stands opposed to the new plan for several reasons, saying TNR only moves the killing from the shelters to the outside. They also say it causes public health and environmental concerns.
"Basically a shell game as far as I'm concerned," Dr. Layton said. "Not only are these cats going to die not-so-good deaths, hit by cars, attacked by coyotes, attacked by dogs…we're going to see increased attacks in birds," she added.
The BOCC meeting takes place Wednesday, May 1st, at 9 a.m.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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