Heartland Humane Society cares for stray cats in Vermillion
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Heartland Humane Society cares for stray cats in Vermillion

Outdoor cats are all over Vermillion. The Heartland Humane Society in Yankton is the closest animal shelter to Vermillion and works with the city and any volunteers through their Trap Neuter Release Program (TNR).

Dana Merrigan is a veterinary technician and intake coordinator at the Heartland Humane Society and helps with the TNR program.

The program traps outside wild cats and bring them to the humane society to be checked on, neutered or spayed then released back to the location they were trapped at.

“We don’t try to take outside cats in to adopt out. We’ve done that in the past, and outside cats really do not want to be indoor cats. They’re used to being outside. They just don’t know how to act, they’re not happy, and they wanted to be back outside,” Merrigan said.

This process can cost fifty dollars for a single cat. The cost has been covered by grants or the City of Vermillion. In some cases, the person bringing the cat to the humane society will have to pay for the program.

If someone doesn’t plan on doing the full TNR program but still want to help out with the cats in Vermillion, Merrigan suggests not feeding the cats.

“If you’re going to be feeding, you’re going to have a whole colony of cats staying at that place where you’re feeding,” Merrigan said. “If you’re not willing to take responsibility and get those animals fixed that are going to be around you … just avoid feeding (the cats).”

During the winter there are many options for the cats to stay warm and safe. They’ve been seen finding shelter in the tires at the Stewart Oil & Tire Co. People across town have set up little shelters for them, including at Coyote Village, alleys downtown, and Dominos on University Street.

Grant Galvin is the general manager at Dominos and has been feeding the Vermillion cats for 14-15 years.

“I just grew up on a farm with cats and I love cats. This is a way for me to have to take care of a cat without having to have one in the house which I would never be around for anyway.” Galvin said.