The humane society once ran a trap, neuter and return program to reduce the wild cat population in the county, but it ended in December 2011 when the program ran out of money, Hargreaves said.
But with the feral cat problem persisting, the group is launching a three-pronged effort to tackle the issue, said Hargreaves, the director for about 18 months.
For starters, a modest do-it-yourself program currently allows local residents to borrow a trap to collect the cats themselves.
“There are several vets who do feral cat surgeries in the area,” Hargreaves said.
The cost runs about $45 to $60.
Residents who want to borrow a cage must make an appointment with the vet first, she said.
Second, the Humane Society has submitted a proposal to the Kenneth A. Scott Foundation of Cleveland for a $25,000 grant to hire someone for 20 hours a week to run a new trap, neuter and release program.
The program will cover part of the costs for surgeries, although residents using the service would be expected to pay something, Hargreaves said.
“It’s going to be a 'hand-up,'" she said. "It’s not going to be a handout."
The group’s executive director, H. Richard Obermanns, was scheduled to visit the humane society Thursday to perform an on-site inspection, so it appears the grant request is being taken seriously, Hargreaves said.
An announcement is expected by year’s end.
The Scott Charitable Trust, which promotes humane treatment of animals, began in 1995. A Form 990 filed with the IRS this year shows the trust had net income of about $996,000 in 2011 from investment assets of about $19.3 million.
It paid about $863,000 in grants to various animal protection groups, including animal shelters in Ohio that received money for feral cat programs.
A third program aims to set up a surgery center, for feral cats, at property Erie County's humane society owns at 1915 Superior St., next to the humane society building.
“I’d like to see it done in 2013,” Hargreaves said.
The site is currently occupied by a vacant house, but it's being demolished. Sandusky firefighters will burn it as part of a training exercise over the next few days.
Brett Kromer, of GreensMe, has agreed to deal with the resulting debris, including filling in the basement.
Hargreaves said the humane society will soon concentrate on obtaining grant money to build the surgery center. Naming rights are available for any donor who would care to step forward.