Best Friend’s Feral Freedom Guide Now Available

Great News for Community Cats

July 12, 2011, 1:25PM MT
By Julie Flanders, Best Friends Network volunteer
Jacksonville’s Feral Freedom Guide now available for download

Best Friends is thrilled to announce that the “Feral Freedom Guide” is now available to help community cats across the country. From sea to shining sea, from the North to the South, from the East to the West, from … well, you get the idea, right? In a nutshell, the guide is available to everyone. It can now be downloaded right here!

What is the “Feral Freedom Guide,” you ask? It’s the brainchild of Rick DuCharme of First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP) in Jacksonville, Florida, and it’s a blueprint to help you and all other community cat caregivers help even more cats.

The “Feral Freedom Guide” is based on FCNMHP’s extremely successful Feral Freedom program in Jacksonville.

That program, which was founded in 2008 as a result of a collaborative effort between FCNMHP and Jacksonville’s interim Animal Care & Protective Services chief Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi, has been an unqualified success in Jacksonville. According to the program, all feral and community cats are turned over to FCNMHP or other animal rescue organizations instead of being euthanized in the city shelter. The organizations then sterilize, vaccinate, and ear tip the cats before returning them to their colonies.

Since 2008, the Feral Freedom program has served approximately 4,500 community cats each year. As a result, the number of cats dying in the city shelter has decreased by 50 percent!

Now, the tools of this extraordinary program are available for you to implement in your own community, thanks to the “Feral Freedom Guide.”

The guide is divided into seven clear steps, starting with understanding how the Feral Freedom program works and ending with measuring your success. In between, the guide presents instructions on how to assess the needs in your community and plan accordingly, work in partnership with shelters and rescue groups, set policy guidelines, and, once you have covered all of these bases, implement your program and start saving more cats! In addition, the guide recommends a visit to Jacksonville to see the Feral Freedom program in action. If feasible, you might as well learn from the pros, right?

Rick and the other folks at FCNMHP are happy to welcome visitors and have the opportunity to share their knowledge. Rick couldn’t be prouder of the work they have done in Jacksonville, and is thrilled to be able to help others save the lives of cats in their own communities.

“We knew the Feral Freedom program had the potential to change the way feral or community cats are handled in shelters nationwide,” he states. “Working with Best Friends to produce the ‘Feral Freedom Guide’ gave me the opportunity to help cats from coast to coast.”
“Best Friends’ cat initiatives is working to build tools that will help communities take the next step in saving lives,” says Shelly Kotter, specialist for the cat initiatives. “The ‘Feral Freedom Guide’ will help not only save lives, but taxpayer dollars. Look for more Best Friends tools in the coming months to add to your trap/neuter/return (TNR) advocate’s arsenal.”
How you can help:

  • It’s a safe bet that the guide will inspire you to take action in your own communities. Download the “Feral Freedom Guide.”
  • Become a fan of the cat initiatives, a place for cat advocates to meet, share information, and provide support and advice on TNR and other cat topics.

Photos courtesy of


Best Friend’s Feral Freedom Guide

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