TNR Education Goes to Camp

Campers at Animal Rights Camp are encouraged to create art with their own messages about animal welfare. (Photo by Kathleen O'Malley)

Campers at Animal Rights Camp are encouraged to create art with their own messages about animal welfare. (Photo by Kathleen O’Malley)

Earlier this summer, Kathleen O’Malley, the Director of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Education for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, took a TNR trap to Park Slope, Brooklyn. She wasn’t headed to trap a community cat. Instead, she visited Animal Rights Camp (ARC) and captured the attention of its young campers by speaking to them about TNR and colony management.

ARC, the brainchild and labor of love of Shoshana Perry, is a weeklong camp for kids from 2nd grade on up. This year, the camp’s third, campers ranged in age from 10 to 14. What all attendees to ARC have in common is an interest in learning about animal welfare issues. Part of the way Shoshana fuels that interest is by inviting representatives from a wide variety of animal welfare organizations to spend a few hours with the group.

During her visit, Kathleen explained TNR and colony management to the campers and showed them how the trap worked, by using a plush cat she also brought with her. “The girls asked a lot of good, thoughtful questions,” recalled Kathleen, “such as ‘Do cats remember being trapped?'” The answer, she told them, was “yes.” Most cats apparently do become trap-savvy after being trapped.

Kathleen’s visit coincided with that of Marcie Frishberg and Natalie Reeves of Rabbit Rescue & Rehab — and a bunny they brought with them. With Shoshana guiding the discussion, the group talked about local laws protecting community cats as well as a new local law that bans the sale of rabbits in pet stores.

One of Shoshana Perry's cats was particularly interested in the trap divider and newspaper liners that Kathleen O'Malley of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative brought for her presentation to Shoshana's Animal Rights Camp campers. (Photo by Kathleen O'Malley)

One of Shoshana Perry’s cats was particularly interested in the trap divider and newspaper liners that Kathleen O’Malley of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative brought for her presentation to Shoshana’s Animal Rights Camp campers. (Photo by Kathleen O’Malley)

A particular desire of this summer’s camp group was to find a way to get pet stores to bring in animals from shelters instead of from puppy mills. “Animal Rights Camp,” said Shoshana, “is an opportunity to empower kids to stand up for what they believe in.” In just one week, the campers managed to raise $3,000 that they donated for this cause, all by speaking out to residents in their community.

Kathleen also encouraged the campers to consider lobbying their local and state representatives in government about their animal rights issues. She distributed TNR handouts to the group, who could not wait to hit the streets, hand out the materials, and share what they had just learned about the needs of community cats.

Next year, the camp session will be two weeks long. For those interested in learning more, e-mail Shoshana at sperry7373@aol.com.

   

Cats, Events & Campaigns, Feral Cats & TNR, Policy & Legal, RabbitsPermalink