Cats in Need Yorba Linda
Feral F.R.E.E. Volunteers

Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner

OC Community Resources
OC Animal Care 

ACTION: What does the volunteer program do?

The Cats in Need Yorba Linda volunteers provide direct support to OC Animal Care’s Feral F.R.E.E. program, which alters feral cats that are brought into the shelter and then releases them back to their original neighborhoods. The Feral F.R.E.E. program’s implementation and continued success can be attributed to the ongoing involvement and high level of commitment consistently demonstrated by the Cats in Need Yorba Linda volunteers.

The volunteers arrive at the shelter several times each week to pick up between one to 30 feral cats once they have recovered from spay/neuter surgery and return them back to their original neighborhoods. Cats are loaded into the volunteers’ personal vehicles and then driven throughout Orange County to any of the 17 cities served by OC Animal Care to be returned to their initial pick-up location. Each week, volunteers dedicate countless hours to schedule multiple trips and personally cover the fuel and vehicle expenses required for the deliveries. Once the cats are returned, the volunteers provide educational materials to the residents regarding the Feral F.R.E.E. program and feral cats. The Cats in Need Yorba Linda volunteers also respond to hotline calls from community members who have questions or concerns regarding the program.

NEED: What community need does the volunteer program address?

OC Animal Care accepts thousands of feral cats each year and shelters the thousands of underage and neonatal kittens that unaltered feral cats produce. Since feral cats are not friendly enough for public adoption, and the underage kittens that they produce are not old enough for adoption, the shelter has had no choice in the past but to euthanize the feral cats. Consequently, thousands of cats were being euthanized at the shelter each year – a practice that did not have a direct impact on solving the problem of feral cat overpopulation in Orange County. Through the partnership with Cats in Need Yorba Linda, OC Animal Care now has an alternative to euthanasia, which not only helps the adult feral cats that come into the shelter, but decreases the number of kittens being produced by these cats once they are returned to their neighborhoods. 

IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteer program's service?

OC Animal Care’s Feral F.R.E.E. program, which is supported by an exceptional team of Cats in Need Yorba Linda volunteers, saves approximately 90 percent of the feral cats that are brought into the shelter. In addition, there is a decrease in the number of kittens coming into the shelter each year. In the year and a half that the program has been in operation, OC Animal Care has experienced a 30 percent reduction in the overall cat euthanasia rate and a 14 percent decrease in kitten intake.

INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteer program unique/special?

The unique and innovative partnership between OC Animal Care and Cats in Need Yorba Linda began on April 1, 2013, and since that time, the 15 volunteers who are an integral part of the program have contributed thousands of hours of service. As a result of their efforts, more than 3,000 cats have been successfully altered and released back to their original neighborhoods.

OC Animal Care is one of a very few municipal animal shelters in the United States that hosts Feral F.R.E.E. programs, and the program’s accomplishments are directly related to the involvement of Cats in Need Yorba Linda volunteers. When the program was first considered by OC Animal Care, a number of local animal welfare groups and organizations were contacted to partner on the project. Cats in Need Yorba Linda volunteers immediately stepped forward, willing to commit their time, efforts and resources to the program’s success.

Thank you and congratulations to Cats in Need Yorba Linda, Feral F.R.E.E. Volunteers!

Excellence in Volunteerism Award winning volunteers included:

  • Christopher Aprigliano
  • Melissa Aprigliano
  • Karen Baker
  • Tina Blake
  • Cathy Franklin
  • Mary Ann Hanger
  • Christina Heffern
  • Scott Heffern
  • Celesta Peterson
  • Pax Sapico
  • Peg Sapico
  • Kathi Valentine
  • Lynda Weisman
  • Susan Westover
  • Nancy Whitmore

Click here to find out how you can volunteer with OC Animal Care.