Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Sylvania considers law punishing feline generosity

Sylvania officials are considering an ordinance that would punish residents for feeding stray cats.

City council first addressed the feral cat issue last September when more than a dozen residents on Vicksburg Drive, Woodland Lane, and surrounding streets complained about a proliferation of stray cats. Residents blamed the feline population boom on one homeowner who was feeding the cats.

Sylvania enlisted Humane Ohio to round up the stray cats for spaying and neutering in hopes of controlling the population in that neighborhood.

In April, however, Janice Pierson, representing the group, showed up with a large grocery bag filled of feces gathered from her yard. She said the problem was unresolved and that new kittens have joined the “kitty buffet” hosted by the same neighbor.

According to current code no one may harbor any animal or fowl that creates noxious or offensive odors, or unsanitary conditions that are a menace to health or comfort of the public. The proposal would prohibit people from feeding stray cats, dogs, deer, ducks, geese, or raccoons. It would allow officials to fine people who violate the code.

Law Director Leslie Brinning presented a model code taken from the city of Twinsburg that prohibits residents from feeding wild animals on public property or within a 100-yard radius of a private residence or public right-of-way. The ordinance excludes song birds.

She said the ordinance would give prosecutors an avenue to pursue charges in extreme cases. The enforcement of the code also requires evidence, she said.

“This is for the habitual feeder, and police will have discretion to talk to the person for the first time,” Mrs. Brinning said.

City council asked for additional research, including whether the ordinance has worked in Twinsburg and what other Ohio communities have done.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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