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Gimme Shelter? Not Everyone Is On Board For Proposed Catch & Release Program For Cats

INLAND EMPIRE (  —   An animal shelter in the Inland Empire is trying to save the lives of many stray cats.

The Ramona Humane Society has come up with a catch and release plan -- stray cats would be captured and spayed or neutered and then microchipped and returned to the street where they were found if they aren't adopted.

Thousands of cats are euthanized every year -- some within five days of arriving at the shelter.

KCAL9's Jeff Nguyen reported it's a great idea to keep more cats alive but not everyone is on board with it.

Scroll through YouTube, and you'll find videos featuring cats getting millions of views.

But the "likes" these animals get on social media aren't always "shared" in real life.

John Welsh knows this well. He is with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

"A lot of organizations that have animal contracts are just overwhelmed with just far too many cats and not enough people coming in and getting them to a loving home," said Welsh.

The problem is also being experienced by the Ramona Humane Society which serves a couple of communities within Riverside County. Too many cats have led to high euthanasia numbers.

"Ramona should be applauded for trying to get in front of this problem," Welsh said.

He says his agency is trying a pilot program in which stray cats that are found already fixed in the Coachella Valley are being released.

The stay cat problem is off-the-charts. Last year, nearly three-quarters off all impounded cats at County shelters were put down.

"We're trying to also let public know we need their assistance, we need people to understand you can't just let you cat roam, unaltered because they're just creating more and more cats," Welsh said.

The Ramona Humane Society's proposal may face a serious challenge. The city of Los Angeles tried to do a similar "catch and release" program in 2009 - but a Superior court judge put a stop to it after the Audubon Society and other bird groups sued claiming re-releasing stray cats would allow them to go after the bird population.

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