The homeless pet epidemic is overwhelming. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), over 6.5 million dogs and cats are put in animal shelters each year in the United States alone. Only half of these animals get adopted.

While stray dogs are more often found and taken to shelters and put up for adoption, many homeless cats spend their entire lives roaming the streets; and since most are not spayed or neutered, kittens are constantly being born into the sad, stressful life.

A Florida cop named Gretchen Byrne has taken matters into her own hands. Officer Byrne, dubbed the ‘Cat Cop’ in her city of Coral Springs, Florida, rescues cats daily along her patrol route.

It all started two years ago, when a pregnant cat approached Byrne on her midnight patrol outside of a shopping center. She took the cat home and posted a photo on Instagram in order to find her a loving home.

Gretchen Byrne, Instagram

Since then, Byrne has continued to rescue the stray cats of Coral Springs. Along her route, she finds cats, keeps them in carriers in the women’s locker room at the police station, and takes them home at the end of her shift. During her lunch break, she takes the time to feed and care for the animals.

Once home, Byrne gets to work to get the cats adopted. Her Instagram, which boasts over 20,000 followers, features adorable photos of the many felines she helps.

Byrne is the proud owner of five of her rescue cats, and has helped find 65 more homes since this journey began two years ago.

cat cop

Gretchen Byrne, Instagram

While the Cat Cop is doing what she can to help the cats of Coral Springs, there are steps we all can take to help end the homeless pet problem. One step to take is to adopt a pet instead of shop for one. Many pets found at pet stores come from horrible breeding facilities in which animals are forcibly impregnated, which adds to the overpopulation issue. Meanwhile, there are millions of cats at shelters and on the streets who need homes. There are other ways to help, too; you can sign up to be a foster parent, make sure your pets are spayed or neutered, and support your local animal shelter through donating your time or money.

Officer Gretchen Byrne has been doing amazing work for the animals of Coral Springs, Florida, and if we all put in the effort to help our homeless furry friends, we could see more sweet cats and dogs in loving homes instead of on roadsides.