The Lake City tightens its laws about not only feral cats, but any cats that are going on the loose. We reported Wednesday about this possibly taking place at Thursday’s Common Council meeting — and now it’s happened.
Supporters say the goal is to address a problem of property damage in the city caused by cats, some of them feral and some not. Opponents are concerned about a possible rush to judgment.
The Common Council has passed, by a 4-2 margin, a new local law that adds cats to the city’s existing statutes about dogs at large.
“We don’t have dogs running loose in the city,” Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs said. “We don’t want dogs running loose in the city. We reined that in a very, very long time ago. Why is it any different for cats?”
Anyone who owns, possesses or control a dog or cat in the Lake City will have to maintain an enclosure to prevent the pet from leaving the owner’s property.
Cats will need to wear a name tag that includes the owner’s name and address on any occasion that the cat is away from home.
In most cases, cat owners will need to have an identification microchip implanted in their cat before the cat is four months old.
The new local law also spells out cleanliness and noise standards.
“I don’t have a problem with feral cats in my neighborhood,” Gibbs said. “I have a problem with cats who are owned by my neighbors who come to my property, and they are using my back yard as a litter box.”
The law is based on complaint-driven enforcement. City staff will only investigate if someone files a report. However, some enforcement aspects concern the shelter manager at the Elmore SPCA.
“How will you make determinations whether or not those cats are feral or not? Most trained behaviorists can’t right away,” shelter manager Rebecca Burdo said. “How are you going to look at the welfare of those animals as they’re sitting in a cage? These are things that I think should be addressed before you implement a law.”
A council member who voted ‘no’ cited a letter from a constituent that he said reflected his own views.
“So I quote, ‘It appears that the Common Council has not differentiated between pet cats and some owners who sadly allow them to roam freely in the community, stray cats that were once someone’s pet but abandoned for a variety of reasons that are now homeless, and feral cats that are wild’,” Councilor Jeffrey Moore said.
The new version of the law will take effect just as soon as the city can file a copy of it with the New York Secretary of State’s office.