Feral cat feeding program revisited

Published 9:33 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The organization working to control the feral-cat population in downtown Washington will make changes to its feeding program for the feral cats.

Nancy O’Neill, spokeswoman for Feline Out-Reach of Beaufort County, made that pledge during the City Council’s Jan. 8 meeting. She also required annual reports about the program would be made in the future. The organization, formerly known as Cats About Town, also operates a trap-neuter-return program, along with other related programs.

Some people had complained about the feeding program attracting other animals to downtown.

“She said she would do everything that’s required by the city ordinance. If you look under that section, it’s prescribes what you’re supposed to do. The big issue that they had, the downtown people, was that they (Feline Out-Reach of Beaufort County) weren’t picking up the food. They were putting it out and then at the end of the day, they weren’t picking the food up. That was encouraging other animals to come in and eat the food. She said she would do a better job of getting that food up,” Roberson said.

In September, Councilman Doug Mercer called for the city to revisit the effort to feed feral cats in downtown Washington. In 2012, the city established a policy that governs that feeding program. At that September meeting, Mercer said it’s time to evaluate that policy and its effectiveness.

In 2013, the council amended the 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. Exemptions, if granted, are subject to annual renewal by the council or withdrawn by the council at any time and for any reason.

“A TNR program was first initiated in downtown Washington in 2009 due to the unprecedented number of kittens being born there. Since 2011 there have been no new litters of kittens & only one newcomer. The population has dwindled from about 30 cats to 19. We expect the number of downtown cats to continue to decline,” O’Neill wrote in a letter to city officials. That letter requested exemption from the city code.

A group of volunteers that monitors and feeds the feral-cat colonies daily, according to the letter. Those colonies are located at the following locations:

  • behind LaBella Slices and Ices pizzeria (four cats);
  • behind Dellinger’s pawn shop (four cats);
  • near the senior center in the Peterson Building (two cats);
  • behind the former Washington Jewelers building (six cats);
  • behind the Hotel Louise building (three cats).

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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