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Published: Wednesday, 8/3/2005

Delta: Residents angered by loose cats

Some Delta residents are raising their hackles over nuisance cats, and village councilmen are hoping a new "cat committee" will ease the tension.

Complaints have been made about cats that wander around town, digging in flower beds, walking on vehicles, killing songbirds, and causing other problems.

The committee, for which councilmen are looking for volunteers, will study the situation and see if it can come up with a recommendation on how to deal with problem, said Gary Baker, village administrator.

Residents have complained that there's no nearby animal shelter and no longer a Fulton County Humane Society.

If cats are caught, it is difficult to decide what to do with them, Mr. Baker said. "We want to see if the citizens' committee can come up with a solution."

Committee members could look into whether cats should be licensed, he said. Delta has a stray cat ordinance, but requirements are difficult to meet, such as being able to identify the owner of the animal, he said.

People have to have their pets under their control, on a leash, when they are off their property, the ordinance says. People who ignore the law can be charged with a minor misdemeanor.

In addition to being a nuisance, the cats pose a health issue, Mr. Baker said, because the animals can carry diseases.

It is "pretty uncommon" for communities and counties to lack shelters and local humane societies, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Most communities are moving toward expanded care of animals, ranging from hamsters and birds to cats and dogs, said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the national organization.

Typically, she said, programs that successfully deal with cat problems are ones that are community efforts involving more than one group or organization. Education is a part of the solution, she said, such as reminding pet owners to be responsible and not let their cats roam. It's important, too, she said, for communities to work with animal-control officers and keep lines of communication open.

Leash laws usually are not well received, but the humane society thinks it is "very responsible" to talk about mandatory confinement. Dogs are not allowed to roam, and there is no reason for cats to be allowed to roam, Ms. Shain said, but acknowledged that it takes an agency and resources to enforce animal-control laws.

Ms. Shain said that it is a misconception that cats by nature need to run wild. Cats can be kept safe and happy indoors, she said.



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