Consider the statistics: Last year Philadelphia's primary city shelter took in 30,000 animals. Of those 19,000 were cats. Roughly 10,000 animals were euthanized, more than half of them cats.
That's 500 cats killed every month.
Now Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT Philly) - in the old days known as "the city pound" - which takes in all stray animals (including the little doll known as Cat 7 above) wants to take a giant bite out of that number and it just got a big infusion of cash to do so.
Best Friends Animal Society - the famed animal sanctuary in Utah which took in most of Michael Vick's abused dogs - in conjunction with PetSmart Charities just gave ACCT a $700,000 grant to control stray cat populations, reduce cat intake at the shelter and ultimately cut dramatically the numbers of cats killed each year.
Holly Sizemore, director of national programs for Best Friends, says the program is making a difference in the other city's where it has been tried.
"In Albuquerque, San Antonio and Baltimore save rates have increased dramatically to over 85 even 90 percent," she said. "It's had an amazing impact in a few years."
Philadelphia is the fifth city to become part of the kitty control program and Sizemore said it selected ACCT because its director Sue Cosby "has the kind of leadership to make teh program successful."
The program focuses on identifying high intake areas, in this case in the north and western parts of the city, and going into those communities and offering services for people, as Sizemore put it "caring for the cats and those who don't care for the cats."
She said they offer support for trapping feral cats, provide spay/neuter and other health services, but also try to mitigate nuisances with humane cat deterrents.
The program embraces the Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) philosophy that keeps cats in their community cat colonies. Feral cats are the first sent to the euthanasia rooms in shelters because they are often - but not always as I can personally attest - deemed unadoptable.
"These cats are in our communities and historically all we've done is kill them," said Sizemore. "These programs are effective to reduce numbers and be the humane solution. We are focused on outdoor free-roaming cats.
ACCT's annual live release rate for cats in 2013 was 66 percent (a figure higher than most shelters, including my own which in 2011 saved fewer than 20 percent of the cats it took in). The Best Friends program aims at spaying or neutering 4,000 cats a year over three years with a goal of boosting that save rate to 90 percent.
 

"The Best Friends Animal Society Community Cats Program is really the key to reducing the population of free roaming cats in our city and reducing the number of cats entering the city's animal shelter," said Sue Cosby. "The program does what ACCT Philly cannot yet do on a large scale, which is reaching beyond the cats who arrive in the shelter and providing veterinary care and sterilization to prevent new cat births."

Part of the funding will go toward salaries of two full time employees to run the program and train ACCT staff.
The Philly zip codes being targeted are 19134, 19140, 19124, 19143, 19139, 19144, 19132, 19125, and 19149