Animal rescue to city of Marion: Change cat-related rules

Marion City Council heard concerns from residents about trapping cats on Kathy Street and a representative of an animal rescue asked council members to consider changing animal-related rules.

At every regular meeting, the City Council has a public comment period where residents can speak to their city officials about any issue not already on the agenda. One of the topics brought before council Tuesday evening concerned the trapping of cats.

Susan Menard with the Mercy Fund Animal Rescue spoke to council about the city trapping cats on Kathy Street due to the complaints of a person living there. These cats are reportedly being taken to the animal shelter.

“I was told that trapping and getting rid of cats in the city has been the policy for 20+ years, and the mayor and city council is not prepared to change the policy now,” she said on Facebook before the meeting. “We are asking the city to change the ‘policy’ here and now.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Menard asked the city officials to stop having the cats trapped and euthanized. Instead, she asked that the Mercy Fund be allowed to do its TNR program in this case.

Among its many efforts, the Mercy Fund has a program called Trap, Neuter, Return or TNR. Through this effort, Mercy Fund volunteers set up cages to catch feral felines. These cats are then taken to a veterinarian and are spayed or neutered so they can’t reproduce and are also vaccinated for rabies. They are later released back into their original homes in the outdoors where they are fed and given shelter by a caregiver.

Menard said the TNR method has been proven to reduce the number of feral cats running through neighborhoods.

“It is the only way to effectively reduce cat populations,” she said.

She provided Marion officials with statistics showing how TNR has reduced the feral cat numbers in other cities and towns.

After hearing from Menard and other Mercy Fund representatives, the city of Marion officials did not take action but they said this will be on the agenda for the Tuesday, July 16 meeting.

Last year, the City Council authorized the use of TNR programs on properties in Marion but it is where the property owners give their consent.

Based on an ordinance dating back to at least 1986, the city has also taken cages to properties in Marion, at the request of a property owner, to catch animals that are at large. When this happens, the city takes any animals that are caught to the county Animal Shelter. If the animals have a collar and identification, attempts are made to notify the owner. Animals are then handled according to the policies of the county shelter, said City Manager Bob Boyette.

“The approval given to allow TNR in the city was not exclusive,” said Boyette. “The city has continued to place cages on properties in the city upon request and will continue to do so, unless the ordinance is changed by the City Council.”

That means the situation is really up to the property owner.

“Those who are willing to have animals returned to their property can use TNR if they want, those who want the animals removed from the property and not brought back can call the city for cages,” said Boyette. “The action to allow TNR in the city was not intended to be exclusive and did not change the ability of property owners to request cages from the city.”

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