Study: UF shelter medicine visiting scholar and TNR in South Korea

Seoul TNR colonySouth Korea may become the latest community cat success story, thanks to the work of former Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program visiting scholar Dr. Yoonju Cho.

Several years ago, Dr. Cho of South Korea was a visiting scholar at in the shelter medicine program, where she completed the Shelter Medicine Certificate Course as well as the Community Cat Management Course.

On returning to South Korea, Dr. Cho started a pilot TNR program and introduced high quality, high volume spay/neuter (HQHVSN) to the country, using UF’s Operation Catnip as a model.

“In the last 10 years, the number of families keeping pet cats increased in Korea, and interest in the welfare and life of community cats increased,” Dr. Cho said. “Community cats are trapped with a predetermined number of TNRs within a set budget. Therefore, to give equal opportunities to those who request TNR, they were sporadically trapped and distributed to local animal hospitals for surgery.

The need, however, outstripped the capacity of the program. “I learned protocols to safely and efficiently process HQHVSN in Operation Catnip in 2014,” said Dr. Cho. “I think this approach is the best way to operate on a large number of cats at once, and have continuously informed the Korean society of the need for intensive targeted TNR.”

Seoul TNR center

In 2017 Dr. Cho finally got the opportunity to be in charge of a “TNR Day” based on the UF Operation Catnip protocol in Seoul. “Up to 80 surgeries were performed per day, and through this, not only Seoul City officials but also veterinarians who participated in the volunteering confirmed the effectiveness of HQHVSN,” Dr. Cho said.

Seoul TNR center

“During 2020, the city of Seoul has established a municipal HQHVSN clinic, although it is small. I conducted a pilot operation with the support of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and implemented a program to settle this system. In addition, Gyeonggi-do, located near Seoul, approved the introduction of targeted TNR, and we TNR’d 141 cats in an area of 0.55㎢ using the Operation Catnip method four times last year.”

Seoul TNR center

Dr. Cho recently published a research project on the TNR pilot program and the difference the practice of HQHVSN can make.

The study authors concluded:

This pilot project demonstrated that a mass neutering program for community cats is feasible in Korea. It is necessary to create public facilities to increase the number of TNR programs and to change the guidelines that currently place many restrictions on TNR. The ban on surgery for cats weighing less than 2 kg and pregnant or lactating cats should be relaxed. Specific guidelines on the weather conditions at the time of trap and return must be provided.

“Other local governments in Korea are also interested in targeted TNR and are reviewing our achievements,” she said. “In addition to the strategic TNR, I am further introducing a system to limit the intake of kittens to reduce the number of cats in animal shelters and to improve the live release rate through fostering programs.”

HQHVSN training in Seoul

“This is an excellent example of how our students are changing the world, especially for community cat management,” said Dr. Julie Levy, Fran Marino Professor of Shelter Medicine Education at the University of Florida.

The complete article is open access and available at the link below.

Cho Y, Kim K, Kim MS, Lee I. 2020. Application of a high-quality, high-volume trap–neuter–return model of community cats in Seoul, Korea. PeerJ 8:e8711