Here, kitty, kitty

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Change in city code allows for feeding of feral cats downtown

The feral-cat population in downtown Washington will continue to be fed, if certain conditions are met.

The City Council on Monday amended Washington’s city code to provide an exemption for certain groups and/or individuals to feed feral cats in specific areas of the city. Anyone else feeding animals in those areas will be violating the city code and be subject to a $50 civil fine for each violation.

The council also decriminalized such violations. Previously, such violations were treated as misdemeanors. The amendment approved by the council also further defines where the feeding of animals is prohibited.

The prohibition includes all city-owned parks, facilities, boardwalks, roads, easements and rights of way including, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Downtown — area further defined by Bridge Street on the west, Bonner Street on the east, Second Street on the north and the federal channel of the Pamlico River on the south (private single-family residences within the outlined area are exempt from these restrictions);
  • Festival Park;
  • Havens Garden;
  • Veterans Park; and
  • Boardwalk along the Pamlico River.

Exemptions may be allowed provided the group or individual provides the following information to the council:

  • Overall program description and purpose of program;
  • Locations where animals are to be fed;
  • Times that feeding will occur — times shall be limited to no more than one hour per day;
  • List of individuals (with up-to-date contact information for those people) who will be overseeing the feeding;
  • Disposition of animals fed and/or caught, including, but not limited to, number of animals, locations of animals caught and released and medical procedures or vaccines given; and
  • Any other information, plan and/or requirement the council may impose or require from said individuals or groups.

Exemptions, if granted, are subject to annual renewal by the council or withdrawn by the council at any time and for any reason.

Before the council voted on the matter, Nancy O’Neill and Monica Ferrari, founders of the local Cats About Town, talked to the council about their TNR/feeding program. TNR stands for trap, neuter and release. They said they believe Cats About Town will be able to meet the conditions for being a group exempt from the prohibition on feeding animals in the specified areas of the city.

“I appreciate your continued commitment to cooperate around this situation,” Mayor Archie Jennings told O’Neill.

O’Neill said Cats About Town is willing to help further reduce the feral-cat population in the downtown area. She told the council there are too many feral cats downtown. She said some of those cats have been adopted locally or by people in Goldsboro, Jacksonville and Florida.

When Jennings asked if Cats About Town would be willing to reduce the feral-cat population by a specified number in a specified time period, O’Neill said that is something Cats About Town would be willing to do.

For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.

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.

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