In West Virginia, Charleston city council’s ordinance and rules committee passed a draconian cat bill this week and sent it to the full city council for consideration. How extreme is it, you ask?
Assistant city attorney Mandi Carter said the ordinance is different from the city’s already-on-the-books animal nuisance ordinances in that it gives the city the power to pick up and impound cats on private property without permission.
The bill includes fines for cat owners but fails to define how ownership is to be determined. It also fails to address community cats – free living cats not socialized to people whose home is the outdoors – the group that is presumably the source of most of the complaints the city receives about cats.
The sole nay vote on the committee came from at-large Councilman Chris Dodrill:
“I totally understand that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. But I also don’t think we should pass bad laws just to do something,”
Councilman Joe Deneault told the local paper, in essence, the council should pass bad laws just to do something:
“We’ve been looking for a perfect solution forever, and we haven’t even come close to finding it. This is a measure toward some solution. It may not be perfect, but it is certainly better than doing nothing,” he said.
And when he says forever, he means not forever. Councilman Dodrill:
“We talk about this once a year for an hour. … I think we can work harder and figure something else out that’s going to work.”
On top of all this, the shelter and police department responsible for enforcing the proposed ordinance say they do not have the cage space or humane officers to do so. And even if they did, enforcing such a law would be a waste of time anyway:
“If time is spent on cat calls, there are animal control concerns, safety concerns, that go unattended in the community. So, vicious dogs; dog fighting; children being bit by animals. And when so much time is spent on cat issues, true animal control public safety issues go unanswered,” [Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association Director Chelsea] Staley said.
Ms. Staley told the committee that residents can use things like citrus and coffee grounds on their property to discourage cats from entering. Some guy who spoke in support of the ordinance wanted to know if irresponsible cat owners were going to foot the bill for the orange peels and the stuff left in the coffee filter that otherwise goes in the trash. Sounds like there was legitimate debate anyway.
The Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association has put up an online petition calling for the bill to be tabled and replaced by something that makes a tiny bit of sense and doesn’t include stealing people’s cats.
If the Charleston city council would scrap this bill and be willing to consider a TNR program for its community cats, I would personally pledge to send my used citrus fruits and coffee grounds to that one guy worried about the cost. Win-win?
(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the links.)