Memo to all those homeless cats hanging out in alleys and barns across Erie County: You have some friends.
More than 20 people filed into a meeting room Tuesday night at Sandusky Public Library for a public forum sponsored by the Erie County Humane Society. The audience was encouraged to ask questions and offer suggestions to Humane Society director Amy Porter. Much of the discussion centered on feral cats and what can be done to make sure the animals are neutered and then cared for afterward.
“I don’t feel they deserve a death sentence,” one woman in the audience said.
Sandusky police animal control officer Rob Gardin said the city is working to create a law to help deal with feral cats. In years past police would capture stray cats if a resident complained about the animal. If the cat was not claimed by its owner in three days, the animal would be “humanely destroyed.”
The city is not currently following that policy, but is exploring ways to deal with an exploding population of stray cats, Gardim said.
Several people complained about the high costs of spaying and neutering cats in Erie County compared to having the same procedure done in Upper Sandusky or Toledo. One woman pointed out it cost $25 to have female spayed at a clinic in Upper Sandusky and $15 to have a male neutered at the same clinic.
Porter pointed out that Life Saver, an organization out of Lorain County, will pick up animals at locations in Sandusky, Huron, and Norwalk and neuter a male cat for $40 and spay a female for $50.
A man in the audience encouraged the Humane Society to become more active in educating children on proper animal care.
“We need to develop an advocacy program,” the man said.
Porter said the Humane Society is just starting to investigate the possibility of starting its own trap/neuter/release program to deal with the feral cat problem.
Dr. Lynn Arnold, a veterinarian and Humane Society board member, said she has mixed feelings about TNR programs. She said they are good because they can keep cats from reproducing. However, when a feral cat is spayed or neutered and then returned to its original location, there must be humans in the area who will make sure the cats receive proper care.
“There are pros and cons. I’m in favor of it in limited and controlled circumstances,” she said.
Feral cats are a threat to spread disease to other healthy cats, Arnold said. She also pointed out TNR programs are unfair to neighbors who do not like cats and do not wish to have a colony of feral cats living near them.