03/03/13 — Too many cats in city

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Too many cats in city

By John Joyce
Published in News on March 3, 2013 1:50 AM

Goldsboro City Council is reviewing an ordinance that would make feeding feral cats a crime.

And if cited for a violation, the perpetrator could face a $25 fine.

It's a measure that the community has asked for, said Goldsboro police Chief Jeff Stewart.

Colonies of feral cats are growing in pockets around the city. One area where the cats congregate is behind the Furniture Fair on East Ash Street.

The proposal was discussed at some length at the council's recent retreat, but Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan said it will be at least a month before any decisions are made.

"The council has the draft. They will review it, discuss any changes that need to be made and then vote on it," Ms. Logan said.

The Wayne County Animal Control collected 3,433 cats in 2012. Although they could not say exactly how many were captured within Goldsboro city limits, more than half of all of those captured, 1,839, were feral.

Wayne County Animal Control Director Vicki Falconer said the cats are not only a public nuisance and a health hazard, but they can also be dangerous.

"They bite," she said. "They can carry rabies or diseases that are contagious to other cats. They also get no medical care, so they can have infections."

Ms. Falconer said that if the cats are sick, or are truly feral and cannot be turned around for adoption, they will be euthanized. They might also have to be put down if they are otherwise a danger to other animals.

"We will try to hold them if they are just scared, and some do turn around," Ms. Falconer said, but her facility can only hold them three to five days.

Both the Goldsboro Police Department and Wayne County Animal Control said they understand the desire for people to feed and to try to care for the homeless animals. And they said the problem is not only that feeding them makes them harder to catch -- they won't go for a baited trap if they aren't hungry -- but that the breeding of the cats is out of control.

"They can (reproduce) at least twice, maybe three times a year," Ms. Falconer said.

Also being reviewed by the Goldsboro City Council is a proposed ordinance to require dog owners to register their pets. To do so, the animals would have to have been vaccinated against rabies.

Maj. Mike West, commander of the Police Department's patrol division, said no cases of rabid dogs have been reported in recent history, but said that it is a concern.

As far as the enforcement of the new ordinances, specifically finding out who is feeding the cats and where, West said the GPD is confident the community will support the police and animal control in their efforts.

"Citizens affected by the nuisance will provide us with the information," West said.