Friend of feral
By LINDA GIBSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2000
CARROLLWOOD -- Most every night, Billie Dickover of Carrollwood drives a route along N Dale Mabry Highway, stopping to feed about 40 feral cats at stops along the way. She and other volunteers also feed 27 cats that live on 10 acres in the area set up as a haven for homeless cats.
Dickover, 49, heads a non-profit group called Fix and Feed Feline Feral. She and a handful of volunteers feed and trap feral cats, have them spayed or neutered and then find homes for them. Since January 1999, the group has neutered 937 cats.
She worked with the Tampa Bay Humane Society to plan a one-day, monthly spay-neuter clinic for feral cats, defined as those that are stray, homeless or wild. Starting in January, people can take those cats to the society's veterinarian on Armenia Avenue, have them neutered and vaccinated for free and then release them.
In San Diego, where a trap-fix-release program started four years ago, more than 7,000 feral cats have been sterilized.
In this county, the number of cats the animal shelter has euthanized has dropped by 50 percent since the program started, according to the Feral Cat Coalition, the group that runs the program.
The life of a feral cat wouldn't necessarily be easier or longer after it was neutered, but it wouldn't continue to add to the thousands of unwanted cats and kittens that, through donations or taxes, Hillsborough County residents pay to have killed every year.
"It's long overdue," said Dickover of the planned program. "The main thing is to get people to realize that we could fix them instead of killing them."
Fix and Feed Feline Feral can be reached at (813) 264-7571 or http://www.fffelineferal.com.
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