GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Stray animals can be found in any city however, locals across Eastern North Carolina are expressing that when it comes to strays, cats in specific, there seems to be a large amount.

Marion Blackburn is an animal rescue advocate and she says one of the most important things is making sure these cats are sterilized before being returned back into the community. She notes, however, that the city of Greenville is working hard, but says that some necessary improvements need to happen.

“Greenville does have a TNR program. TNR means trap, neuter, release. Greenville’s program right now is what I would say in its infancy. It’s not where it needs to be,” said Blackburn.

TNR, what’s that?

“TNR means trap, neuter, release,” said Blackburn.

Marion Blackburn is a local animal rights advocate and rescuer. She says the problem of stray and feral cats and kittens has become quite an issue around Greenville from what she’s seen.

“Change does take time but we don’t have time because every cat out there that has not been sterilized is going to reproduce and this is not just a few kittens, this is hundreds, thousands of kittens,” said Blackburn.”

So what can you do if you come across strays? Well, there are a couple of options. However, there are also laws, so it is important to remain well within the cities guidance.

“Individual people can contact the Greenville Animal Protective Services, Pitt County Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina. The sad truth is all of these agencies are overburdened,” said Blackburn. “People in the community can’t go out and sort of trap randomly, they should follow the TNR program for the city of Greenville, however imperfect it is, they should follow those guidelines.”

That brings us back to TNR. It’s a way for residents to capture the stray, take it to get spayed or neutered along with necessary shots, then release it back to where it was found. Blackburn says this helps cut down on inbreeding, the spread of diseases and other issues.

“I think Pitt County is doing a great job. They have a subsidized spay/neuter program which makes it very affordable for individuals to have an animal spayed or neutered.”

As far as the city of Greenville, she notes the efforts being made but also expects the same level of care as what the county is doing.

“This is what Greenville needs and I believe that this is what Greenville Animal Protective Services officers are working towards,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn says it is important to know that by law you must house the animal for three days to make sure it does not belong to anyone. Greenville’s animal protective services unit is also utilizing new technology and apps to help carry this out and to help rehome these animals.

Click here for more data and information on strays here in town.

If you would like to register for the city’s TNR program, click here.