STRASBURG (WJER) (Jan. 3, 32023) – Village officials are no longer considering a proposed ban on feeding stray cats.
Council tabled the measure Tuesday evening after dozens of residents and animal welfare advocates showed up at Village Hall to voice their opposition:
“I, as a citizen, don’t identify with option of murdering by starvation these poor souls. I stand for life.” “They’re not here because they want to be. They’re here because somebody dumped them.” “There’s plenty of organizations the village could reach out to versus criminalizing what we do at our own homes.”
The ordinance introduced last month would have made it a misdemeanor offense to feed stray cats or any other wild animal on public property and within a hundred feet of any private residence.
“If there’s a bird or cat or dog or anything that I see that needs help, I’m gonna help it,” said 73-year-old Ron Tarlton. “Whether they’re gonna press charges on me to pay, I’m gonna do it over and over again.”
Most of the folks who spoke during Tuesday’s council meeting wanted members to reject the proposal and pass legislation allowing the practice of TNR – short for trap, neuter, and return – which proponents say is the only humane way to reduce the number of cats roaming around over time and eliminate unwanted behaviors.
“The spraying will stop; the fighting will stop; and the breeding will stop,” explained Crystal Riggi, who runs an animal rescue in Copley and helps communities throughout the state launch TNR programs.
However, a couple of homeowners said they were fed up and thought the cats were a nuisance.
“These cats are now breeding and breeding and they’re coming to my home and they’re all living under all of my sheds. They’re peeing all over everything. It smells bad.” “They’re nothing but sneaky and they’re hunters and they’re killers and I don’t care what anybody says.”
Council has a work session scheduled for next Wednesday at 7 pm to discuss how to best address the situation. Leaders from the Tuscarawas County TNR Project have offered their expertise but say they cannot help communities that criminalize feeding.