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SPAR In The News....

Commissioners Alter Cat Policy

Shawnee News-Star, Web-Posted May. 02, 2006
By Courtney Bryce
SNS Reporter

After much debate, Shawnee commissioners agreed to give feral cats some opportunities they didn't have before Monday. Commissioner Wes Beck proposed that the phrase "feral cat" be taken out of Section 5-248 of the city code. The first sentence of the ordinance read, "It shall be unlawful for any person to permit a vicious or feral cat to run at large."

Beck said he wanted to take the phrase out so that Saving Pets at Risk, a non-profit organization, could legally participate in Feral Cat Day on Oct. 16. In a February meeting, Beck had asked the city for $7,500 to spay or neuter 100 cats on this day. Beck estimated that it would cost about $75 dollars to give vaccinations and spay or neuter each cat.

"What concerns me is, if we remove it, how will Animal Control and police be able to manage those running at large that become a nuisance," said Vice Mayor Linda Peterson.

Beck said the ordinance would still read so that it will not effect what Animal Control does. Beck said it would allow SPAR to legally spay or neuter 100 cats and then return them according to the wishes of the owners of the properties.

Peterson argued that she represents people who do not agree with Beck.

The two disputed the definition of "feral."

City Attorney John Canavan said that when the ordinance was written in 1994, the phrase "feral cat" meant a cat was not owned.

Commissioner Marva O'Neal interjected, "Down where I live, people bring cats and turn them loose."

She said she was concerned that the cats could contract rabies and bite a child.

Beck said this is one reason SPAR wants to spay and neuter. He said one female cat and her litter could account for 420,000 cats over the course of seven years.

Commissioner Tom Claybrook proposed that the first sentence of the ordinance just be eliminated.

"This gives SPAR the right to do what they want but Animal Control and police will still have the right to deal with vicious or diseased animals," Claybrook said.

The motion passed. Motions also were passed to require owners to vaccinate pets once every three years instead of every year since vaccines last three years, and to hold animals in the shelter for 72 hours instead of 48.

Collard also announced that SPAR members will volunteer at the Shawnee Animal Shelter so that it can be open from 8 a.m. to noon the first and third Saturdays of each month.