By Andrea Lucia


Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Southern Methodist University has shut down its feral cat program, which has sponsored efforts to care for the animals on campus for 10 years.

The university said the cats have brought in fleas. Volunteers have alleged that the school hired Terminix to trap and remove them.

“They all have their own name. They all have a personality. We have pictures of them. Pictures, profiles. We could tell you everything about every cat out here,” said Tarah Baumgartner.”

Volunteers said the school locked them out of a storage facility Thursday without warning.

“The locks were changed and I couldn’t get in. Then I started noticing e-mails from others on campus saying our cat bowls are missing. There’s no food,” said Baumgartner.

She saw Terminix employees setting up traps, and was outraged. “That’s when we found out they are removing the cats without even telling us.”

Worried the cats would be caught in the heat without water, animal lovers began triggering the traps or removing them altogether.

SMU said this spring’s recent heavy rain caused the increase in fleas.

In a statement the university said “as a result, several smu facilities required extensive treatment this summer…”

But volunteers said there are better solutions than getting rid of the cats.

“We don’t want a flea problem because it’s bad for the cats, too. The cats can be treated. That’s not the problem,” said volunteer Robyn Stevens.

SMU’s website brags about the success of the feral cat program attracting grants, keeping away mice, and keeping the cat population in check, too.

An online petition with 746 signatures to save the animals was posted today.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)