LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – This week’s Everyday Hero isn’t just a leader in her classroom, she’s also leading the way in her community. On her time off, she’s capturing stray cats, helping them get neutered, and putting them back out into the community. And no, we’re not kitten you! It’s a big issue in Florida, especially in rural Lake County.
Spectrum News 13’s Katie Streit saw the teacher in action, as she captures the cats.
Meet Ericka Esterson, teacher by day and cat rescuer by night. Esterson, has quite the ‘tail’ to tell. Two years ago, she was volunteering in her community when she noticed a problem.
“There were cats everywhere. So I decided to get involved and see what we can do to put an end to that because the residents were telling some pretty sad stories. So I did that and I’ve been doing it for two years now, Esterson said.
But it’s not all cute kitty cuddles. She travels all around Lake County capturing community cats and taking them up to the Lake County Animal Shelter for their Caturday program to Spay and Neuter them.
“The situation with the cats is they’re everywhere, they’re at a community center, they’re at a commercial business parking lot,” said Esterson.
Esterson said these community cats keep multiplying. That’s why she does TNR, which stands for trap, neuter, return – a humane way to let community cats keep roaming the streets, but stop the increase of them within the area.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, but you just have to look at it as though it’s one cat at a time. This cat is not gonna have five more litters with five each. That’s 15 kittens at least per year that I’ve saved and I’ve prevented,” said Esterson.
Esterson says she can’t do it alone.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of neighborhood the cats are everywhere, there’s only so much one person can do. We could fan out, work smarter, not harder, and really make a dent in this situation,” said Esterson.
She hopes more people can get involved either by fostering cats or by joining their local TNR program. Esterson said most counties have their own TNR program, partnering with a local rescue or shelter. Many even include the traps and food while participating in the program.