(WBIR) A rare job position is helping control the feral cat population in Blount County.
Nationwide--volunteers trap, neuter, and return (TNR) feral cats. But a grant is helping one woman TNR more effectively.
In November, the Charles and Sue Fouche Foundation awarded a grant to Kimber Brantley. It allows her to TNR full-time, in a paid position.
"I still can't believe it," Brantley said.
Brantley has volunteered as a feral cat trapper for 25 years.
Half of that time, she's been bringing the strays to People Promoting Animal Welfare (PPAW) Spay/Neuter Clinic in Greenback. After they have been fixed, they are returned.
"They're returned to the neighborhood where they came from, under the care of a caretaker... Someone who is watching out for them and feeding them daily because it would be inhumane just to turn them loose," said Deborah Searfoss, PPAW director.
Searfoss said she believes Brantley could be the first paid trapper of her kind in the state, possibly even in the nation.
Through Brantley's new position, she is able to check on several locations throughout the day. She learns of many feral cat colonies through the community.
"Find help, do something. Because in a year you'll be calling me to trap 30 cats. So we're really trying to get this in the beginning," she said.
But there is more work to be done. Brantley wants a Maryville city ordinance changed that affects caretakers of feral cat colonies.
"People should not be afraid to take care of these cats without the fear of having a fine of feeding cats. Because once you do that, you become the owner," Brantley said.
Funding for Brantley's position lasts a year. After that, PPAW will work on receiving additional funding.
PPAW urges people to spay or neuter their pets.
Through the clinic's January special, it cost $20 dollars for male dogs or male cats to get fixed. More information can be found on PPAW's website.