The large box was thumping and lurching by the back door when Amy Csengeri arrived for work.
The seizure last week of 112 cats from an East Toledo home and the court appearance two days later of the founder of the Airport Highway's Lend-A-Paw's Foundation and Puppy Nursery underscored Lucas County's continuing problem with unwanted cats.
Now the Toledo Area Humane Society is looking for legislative help: It is calling for state laws that would empower county dog wardens to pick up cats and for local laws that would establish animal-control officers. “Ohio has created its own problem,” said Greg Bloomfield, the agency's director. “We've had dog control for years, but ... cats are given free reign.”
The problem is that no one picks up strays for Lucas County.
The Toledo Area Humane Society says it can only take in cats given up by an owner or seized during a cruelty investigation.
The Lucas County dog warden says state law restricts his duties to dogs.
Critter Control of Toledo, a private group, says it doesn't want to take a chance of euthanizing someone's loose pet. And area shelters say they're full.
“It's been getting somewhat worse,” said June Remley, a spokeswoman with Maumee Valley Save-A-Pet, which is caring for about 130 cats in various foster homes. “There used to be a lull in the winter. We don't ever see an end to it anymore.”
Patti Rood, founder of the Lend-A-Paw Foundation and Puppy Nursery, had taken in so many cats that the Humane Society accused her of animal cruelty because it said the care was spread so thin that some animals were sickly and had to be euthanized, they said.
Ms. Rood countered she had no choice but to take in the cats that people had left at her doorstep.
Last week, Toledo Municipal Judge Arlene Singer, citing a lack of adequate cat shelters, decided to allow Ms. Rood to continue her operation and lifted any restrictions on the number of cats Ms. Rood is allowed to take in.
The Humane Society isn't the only one talking about a need for change.
The Corporation for Effective Government released a report this year that criticized the county's lack of animal control and recommended a more comprehensive attack on the cat problem.
Toledo city council will meet with representatives in neighboring communities this month to address the report, said Councilwoman Betty Shultz. A date for the committee-of-the-whole meeting has not been scheduled.
“There are missing laws at the state level, and missing funding at the local level,” Ms. Shultz said. “The problem isn't going to go away.”
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