It's unfortunate that the Navy plans to suspend its "trap, neuter and return" program as a method of stabilizing feral cat and dog populations on naval bases [In the Loop, Jan. 17]. The program has been successful, humane and cost-effective.

Anyone who works with feral cats knows that, like nature, they abhor a vacuum. When a perfectly good habitat is left uninhabited by the forced removal of the resident feral cats, others -- and plenty are out there -- will move in to fill the void. To successfully implement its policy of sending feral cats to animal shelters, the Navy will have to wage perpetual war on homeless cats and kittens.

As to the fate of adult cats taken to shelters, only the few house cats that might have joined the feral colony will be candidates for adoption. The rest will be killed immediately as not adoptable.

Before such a cruel policy is implemented, the Navy needs to answer questions regarding the fate of cats (and dogs, in some cases) that it proposes sending to the pound, as well as the cost of such a plan compared with the low cost of simply allowing volunteers to manage and feed such colonies. And contrary to the Navy's claim, ample numbers of volunteers are willing to perform this task.

FRANCIS BATTISTA

Director of Rescue Outreach

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Kanab, Utah