The difference between CNRM and TNR (republishing)

This article was first published in April 2019 and again in January 2020.

We are republishing it again as a gentle reminder to all applicants that our neutering and vaccination aid is prioritised for those who practise One-Street CNRM, with particular emphasis on the C=Care and M=Manage components.

Our priority has always been to help street animals. But if neutering claims for street animals are low for a particular period, we will extend our aid to those who adopt from the street and keep the animals at home too. However, the number of claims for animals who are adopted into a home has a limit as we do not wish to encourage hoarding. The definition of hoarding, put simply, is when the caregiver is unable to provide adequate nutrition, shelter, sanitation and veterinary care for the animals under their care.

Here is the article again (with some additional remarks):

We would like to distinguish the difference between what we promote, ie. CNRM and what is sometimes done by certain rescuers, ie. TNR.

The short version: CNRM means you continue looking after the neutered animals for life.  TNR means you just release after neutering.
Rumusan: CNRM bermaksud anda akan menjaga haiwan yang dimandulkan untuk seumur hidup. TNR bermaksud anda hanya lepaskan sahaja selepas dimandulkan.   

CNRM stands for C=Care, N=Neuter, R = Return-to-Colony and M=Manage. In CNRM, we cannot over-emphasise how important the C = CARE component is. Caring begins right from the start in catching the animal in a humane manner, getting the animal neutered when the vet opines the animal is healthy enough to go through the surgery, looking after the animal post-op until full recovery, returning the animal to the colony (only if it is safe) and continue caring for (managing) the animal for the rest of their lives. Managing includes daily feeding, getting the animal vaccinated for protection against diseases, taking the animal to the vet when they are sick. In short, looking after the animal for the rest of their natural lives.

We do, however, totally acknowledge the problems and worry faced by all feeders who care for street animals because local councils still do not spare the ear-notched (neutered) animals from capture. This has been perhaps the biggest stumbling block to successful street animal population control and also the biggest headache and heartache of most feeders. It is, however, beyond our control, as a change in the by-laws can only be done by politicians and policy-makers. Animal lovers can appeal and plead, but we remain a minority. Politicians only listen to the majority (sadly, there is a difference between doing what is right and doing what will get them re-elected).

Returning the neutered animals to the colony and managing them well is the key to population control of street animals. Neutered animals will protect the colony and prevent new animals from migrating in. “Where they are born is where they belong” – many street animals are probably happier living a life of freedom. However, the key to keeping the neutered animals within the colony is to continue caring for them.

Street animals can also contract various kinds of diseases, some of which are curable or at least, they can be given nursing or palliative care if they have a caregiver. For example, sporotrichosis is curable. Those with kidney degeneration, cancer and other terminal diseases can be given palliative care. Even liver disease is also sometimes curable. So, if left on their own without a human carer, street animals who contract diseases will suffer and may die a slow and painful death. This is one of the reasons we emphasize on C=Care and this caring must continue all their lives (M=Manage).

By continuing to feed the neutered animals in a responsible way, this would reduce the chances of the animals foraging dustbins for food. Some of the CNRM-feeders we have spoken to even go the extra mile of picking up faeces or preparing litter boxes for their neutered cats. By doing all this, the chances of complaints from neighbours would also be reduced. In some cases, such acts of compassion by CNRM-feeders can create a chain effect and act as a good example for others to follow.

CNRM involves all of the above; it IS a lot of work, and this is precisely why we strongly suggest to keep it small and manageable. Practise One-Street CNRM so that one doesn’t burn out having to care for too many.

On the other hand, TNR refers, in general, to Trap-Neuter-Release. There is no M=Manage component in it. We know that some rescuers do this and some of the animals are even released in a different place and the rescuer does not keep track of the animal anymore after that.

At the end of 2018 when we decided that our funds should only go to those who practise One-Street CNRM, we spoke with all our existing applicants and came to know that some of them do not keep track of their neutered animals (with funds aided by us previously). We were getting answers like, “Don’t know, killed in accident, maybe?”, “Maybe ran away?”, “Maybe caught by council?”, “Maybe poisoned?”. Some were even annoyed that we would ask about the previous animals. We totally understand that once released or returned-to-colony, the animal may be subject to many kinds of dangers on the street and we accept this, but it is the nonchalant “don’t know, don’t care” response that was very troubling. There was even a case where the applicant clearly stated that she would be releasing the neutered dog to a place where the councils frequent and that there was a high possibility of the dog being caught. We did not give our aid to her.

We also do not deny that neutering-and-releasing is better than not neutering at all. However, when it comes to using a charity’s hard-earned donations, we expect a bit more from rescuers.

In TNR, there is also a higher chance that the neutered animals will migrate elsewhere because there is no feeder providing food or caring for them. Once they migrate out, new unneutered animals will come into the territory. Thus, it’s a never-ending story and the colony might never be stabilised. TNR alone is often not sustainable and may not help in population control. The feeder might also end up with fatigue because the numbers might keep increasing.

So to all our applicants, please continue caring for these animals after they have been neutered. Keep your colony small and please do your best to manage it.

We owe it to our donors and supporters to ensure that their donations are used effectively and would not be wasted.

We have many applicants who tell us that after a few years of CNRM, their colonies have indeed stabilised and they only have to look after the neutered animals within the colony. This is One-Street CNRM and it should not be financially draining or too stressful because the feeder does it within his/her means. Keep it small and manageable.

If any rescuer wishes to use their own money to do TNR, do go ahead but if you are using the funds from others, then there has to be more and higher accountability to care for the animals as our ultimate aim is to build a community that cares for street animals and effectively control the street animal population.

This also applies to those who act as an “agent” for neutering. They help other caregivers get the animals neutered but they do not look after the animals after that. Again, this is not wrong, but if you are only an “agent” for neutering, you are also not practising CNRM, so please do consider using your own money for this. Our policies do not cover third party requests as there are accountability issues involved.

With the above vision, we started implementing the project-based application in early 2019 and we have been asking for proof of CNRM for every single application. You will see the word “& Updates” in every neutering post if it is not a first-time claim. We will continue doing this to ensure the best use of funds received.

My personal thanks go to Dr Tan Chek Wee who first taught me everything about the TNRM concept way back in 2006.





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