Cat rescuers, animal advocates and veterinarians, along with other animal lovers, will gather on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Genesee Grand Hotel in Syracuse to discuss issues surrounding cats as part of the Humane Society of the United States’ symposium, “Rethinking the Cat.”
The free, day-long event, co-sponsored by PetSmart Charities, will provide training in two tracks: “adoptable” cats (i.e., shelter cats and rescues) and “community” cats (the feral cat population).
Brian Shapiro, director of the New York state chapter of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said the event, one of six being held across the country, is designed to address cat issues in the community.
“We designed these symposia to address the most urgent cat issues in the region — spay/neuter availability, boosting adoptions, addressing community cat populations humanely — and we will be presenting on a wide variety of tools that local agencies and organizations can use to help cats wherever they are,” Shapiro said.
Syracuse was chosen because it is a hub of activity among animal rescuers and similar organizations.
“Central New York, with Syracuse as the hub, has so many active animal advocates and people who really believe so strongly in animal welfare,” Shapiro said. “When we were looking throughout the state for locations, we felt strongly that Syracuse would be a good city to host our New York symposium.”
The symposium will help shelters and rescues address cat issues in the community. Speakers for the event include animal control officers, veterinarians and cat rescuers, including Linda Young of Liverpool, founder of Kitty Corner, a local cat rescue, and president of the CNY Cat Coalition. Sessions will examine ways to resolve conflicts about feral cats (an issue with which Salina residents are very familiar), best practices for cat adoption, reducing unnecessary euthanasia in shelters, trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs and more.
“This is everything you ever wanted to know about cats but were afraid to ask,” Shapiro said. “Shelters and rescues will learn many new tools, ideas and programs to take back home and implement to help more cats. They will hear from national experts as well as their local colleagues who have been having success in their own corner of the state. They will also be able to connect with colleagues and folks they have not yet met, to share, network and learn from one another.”
Shapiro said he hoped symposium attendees could take what they learn and apply it locally to improve the situation faced by “unowned” cats.
“We encourage agencies and organizations to rethink their current approaches and to really question what they need to change in order to reach our key goals of keeping more cats in homes and reducing the numbers of unowned cats,” he said. “We’re building a community of individuals and groups who want to make communities more humane for cats, people and wildlife.”
The event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., includes a continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. The Genesee Grand is located at 1060 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. To register, visit action.humanesociety.org/site/Calendar and click on the “Rethinking the Cat” link on Sept. 9.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.