A Catoosa County, Georgia woman is facing charges for feeding a colony of feral cats in Fort Oglethorpe. The city has a new ordinance making it illegal for people to feed feral cats. Residents are upset because they’ve been tending to the cats for years and fear the cats will starve to death since it’s now a crime to leave food out.
Pat Shaw will appear before court this week after being charged with a misdemeanor in December for feeding the cats. She has since stopped feeding them, but now feels the local government is harassing her. One surveillance camera photographed her car before checking to see whether Pat left food out for the cats at the city park.
Resident Angie Templeton told WRCB-TV that the most she’d seen around at one time is 15. City Manager Ron Goulart contradicts Angie, saying that there are at least 100 cats in the area. Goulart has advice on how to avoid being charged for caring for the cats saying:
“Do not feed the wild animals, it’s real simple.”
This video shows interviews with several of the cat feeders, as well as Goulart
Signs are out stating feeding animals is now prohibited and violators will be prosecuted. Goulart says the problem has gotten worse over time because people are dropping off their stray cats right and left. He considers feeding the cats attracts racoon’s and more cats, and has installed surveillance cameras in the park. To date at least two misdemeanor citations have been issued.
Goulart claims to have nothing against cats. It’s just a rule in the park against feeding them, just like it’s a rule not to drink beer or have wild parties in the park. He also states serial offenders could be banned from park property.
Catoosa Citizens for Animals Care (CCAC) President Kelly Evans told WRCB-TV
“You know I would hate to see the city of Fort Oglethorpe being known as a city who hates people who take care of animals.”
Kelly says volunteers with CCAC feed the cats off-property, trap, spay, neuter and release them back into the wild in a TNR program. The cats are sterilized, given their vaccines and ear-tipped before being returned to their colony. Not only are sterilized cats less aggressive, they’re protected against rabies since the vaccine is one of those given at the time of surgery. TNR has been shown in scientific studies to be a humane method to control the pet population (see one success story). A maintained colony of feral cats will decrease over a decade or so since they’re unable to reproduce.
As for Pat Shaw, she says she’d just like to go for a peaceful walk in the park
“I feel like I can’t even walk out there without somebody watching me constantly.”
The big question posed by the Fort Oglethorpe city park cat caregivers is why isn’t the law enforced over pet abandonment. If surveillance cameras can catch the license plates of those who are feeding the cats, then the cameras should be able to catch those dumping cats in the park. Wouldn’t it be better to punish those causing the problem rather than those trying to help the cats survive?
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