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    Cat killing idea dismays animal advocate

    NewsGeneral Cat NewsMonday 20 February 2012
    There is no doubt that Northumberland has a stray cats problem, but killing felines that are trapped won't help, a resident said.
    The Borough Council's rules committee met last Monday night to discuss how to deal with the problem, said councilman and committee Chairman Ty Sees.
    Linda Williard, who lives in the borough, said she is associated with several animal groups such as SUN PETS, the Mostly Mutts no-kill shelter near Sunbury and the Lycoming Animal Protection Society, or LAPS, a no-kill cat shelter in South Williamsport, and she is concerned about what action might be taken at this week's council meeting. The council had been set to meet Tuesday, but the meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday.
    "They can't trap them and kill them," she said. 'We understand Northumberland has a problem, but so do other areas, and they have many meetings to figure out the best method of trying to solve it."
    Williard said the council talked about trapping the animals and keeping them for three days for owners to retrieve. After the three-day period, the council would euthanize animals that weren't claimed.
    "That won't solve the problem," she said. "Trapping them and neutering them and then releasing them is a better idea."
    Williard said some residents finance trap, neuter and release programs out of their own pockets.
    "The average life of a stray cat who has been neutered and released on the streets is only two years," she said. "They will die on their own."
    Sees said residents have trapped up to 60 cats, and some take them to Harrisburg to get neutered and then bring the animals back and release them.
    He said he disagrees with that method. Sees said resident complaints about cats getting in garbage and gardens would just continue after the animals' return.
    "They are cats," Williard said. "Of course, that is where they will go. They aren't like dogs, and when they go to the bathroom, they bury it."
    The ordinance being discussed also might include the licensing of cats, which would help owners find lost pets.
    Sees said the borough is seeing the stray cats problem as a health and safety issue.
    "When cats run wild in backyards, in flower beds, they can carry diseases, they defecate. It can pose a real danger to the health of young children," he said.
    Borough secretary Jan Bowman said the rules committee considered an animal ordinance in 2009, but failed to reach a consensus. The borough does not have an animal control officer, so the problem would fall to the Northumberland Police Department.
    Williard said she spoke with police Chief Tim Fink about the situation. "I just asked him to look at other options," she said. "I hope this can be solved in the appropriate way."
    According to a Maryland group called Alley Cat Allies, the best ways to keep stray cats off property are to apply nontoxic deterrents around the yard, put a tight lid on trash cans, block gaps in the foundations of sheds and use a car cover.
    The group said catching and killing cats brings in more cats because new cats see the territory as vacant. It also suggests the trap, neuter and release method.
    By Francis Scarcella
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