Bellefontaine Examiner

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Are free-roaming cats a problem in Bellefontaine, Ohio?

Really? Well, to answer this question I am going to cover a few points and explain the “cat problem” we created.

Free-roaming cats carry diseases that not only affect us, but many of our own pets including cats. A woman from Trumbull County, Ohio in the beginning of June 2013, got bitten by a rabid stray cat (http://www.wkbn.com/013/06/06/woman-bitten-by-rabid-cat/) and had to undergo rabies treatment plus get treatment for the cat bite. Here is the list from the CDC’s Web site of diseases a cat can carry: Campylobacter, Cat Scratch Disease, Q Fever, Cryptosporidosis, tapeworms, hookworms, leptospirosis, plague, rabies, ringworm, salmonella, roundworms and toxoplasmosis (http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/animals/cats.htm).

Free-roaming cats can hurt environment (ecologically). A recent study published in January 2013 said that free-roaming cats kill an estimated 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals each year (http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/pdf/loss_et_al_2013.pdf).

Free-roaming cats are a nuisance to my property. How? Well, they go to the bathroom in my garden, my flower beds and come into my garage. I try to deter them with no avail and try to do what the Humane Society says in their pamphlet Deterring Stray Cats (http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=375) and will be available throughout some of the local retail stores here in town for you to pick up and read.

How are we going to solve this problem? Well, first we need to resolve the health risk i.e.: rabies. Right now, there are no laws in Logan County requiring dogs or cats to get rabies vaccinations. We need to require rabies shots for both cats and dogs. Second, we need to keep cats inside or under control if they are going to be outside. They hurt the environment if they are free-roaming. Third, we need laws to keep free-roaming cats in check. We have dog laws in Bellefontaine, why can’t we have cat laws? We don’t need animal control agents right now, but if we have cat laws requiring identification then we can fund an animal control agent and find the owner if the cat gets lost. There are other cities and states that have cat laws that our city council can model or adopt from: Akron, OH, Aurora, CO and the state of Rhode Island.

Right now, the proposal is to set up a hotline for “hot spots” of cats and trap, neuter and return. How is this going to solve the problem? The free-roaming cats are still going to carry potential disease, hurt the environment and be a nuisance to property owners. We need to trap, neuter and adopt. We need a cat sanctuary to care for these animals.

We need to be proactive not reactive.

Patrick Wolfe B.Sc.

Bellefontaine

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