Feeding feral cats on city council’s agenda

Published 12:31 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two women want Washington to modify its ordinances and allow the feeding of birds and animals in the downtown area under specific conditions.

Monica Ferrari and Nancy O’Neill want the modifications so feral cats in the downtown area may be fed to keep them healthy.

In their written request to the city, the women wrote: “Residents and other compassionate persons are leaving food for the city’s downtown cats in order to keep them healthy. Current ordinances do not allow feeding of birds and animals. Police department therefore is issuing warnings and fines. Although people feel they are under camera surveillance, they compassionately continue to leave food in obscure areas.”

Currently, city ordinances prohibit the feeding of birds and animals in the area bounded by Bridge Street on the west, Market Street on the east, Stewart Parkway and Main Street on the north and the federal channel of the Pamlico River on the south. Feeding may occur within any privately owned residential properties in that area.

Violators of the ordinance are subject to a civil penalty.

The women propose modifying the ordinances to allow designated caretakers/monitors to provide dry cat food and water for the feral cats in “obscure spots off Main Street pedestrian traffic.” They said food containers and food would be paid for by private sources, not taxpayers.

“Enforcing a ban on feeding downtown Washington cats is difficult, time consuming and poor use of our police department’s limited resources,” reads their request. “There will always be compassionate people who will in spite of ordinances, continue to provide little food for our downtown cats. Allow the modification of the ordinances, so that the TNR Program can continue to be an effective method of population stabilization. Those few remaining cats will stay healthy without reproducing.”

TNR stands for trap, neuter and return.

“Colony cats are humanely trapped, sterilized, and vaccinated,” reads the women’s proposal. “Strays and young kittens are removed from the colony and adopted into homes. Adult feral cats are ear-tipped for identification and returned to their outdoor homes where their numbers gradually go down through attrition.”

The council’s entire agenda may be obtained by visiting the city’s website at www.washington-nc.com. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike