Possible Ordinance To Affect Jefferson City Animals

9 years 11 months 3 weeks ago Monday, October 04 2010 Oct 4, 2010 Monday, October 04, 2010 6:15:40 PM CDT October 04, 2010 in News

JEFFERSON CITY --  A cat fight is brewing in Jefferson City over a new 3 part law. The law, which the city council will vote on Monday night, affects how animals, specifically stray cats, are treated in the Capitol City.

The three part law includes:

  • Restricting the number of dogs or cats in a private house and apartments to six
  • Prohibiting maintenance of animal on public property
  • Prohibiting pet owners from leaving animals unattended in motor vehicles

Repercussions for disobeying these potentials laws would result in a city fine. City fines typically range from $20 to $25.

The real risk in the potential ordinance isn't the fine, but the most controversial section of the legislation, part two of the ordinance.  It prohibits the maintaining of animals on public property. Parts one and three are not considered as controversial.

"As far as I know, no one is against keeping animals in hot cars, and really I don't think there is any opposition to the issue of the limit to the number of animals.  The limit is pretty high," said Jefferson City City Attorney Nathan Nickolaus.

Part two focuses on growing "cat colonies," or groups of 20 or 30 cats, infiltrating Jefferson City parks. Colonies are formed due to groups maintaining the cats, or feeding and neutering them, only to release them back into the parks.

"A group of citizens has decided to implement a program called trap neuter and release.  What they do is they trap the animals, they neuter them, and then release them back into that same colony, and then they feed them and maintain them there.  The city was actually unaware that was going on, and when we found of that that was going on there was a number of concerns that were raised about the animals being in our parks," said Nickolaus.

The amount of cats per park is dependent on the size, but in Washington Park, as many as 60 cats were reported. However up to several months ago, the city was not even aware of the colony program.

The city has taken the colony program so seriously due to the public safety risk involved. 

"We are hearing about this issue and the cats in the community, and we do want the public to be informed and really have all the information at their fingertips and know that these cats do carry the potential of carrying some diseases.  So there is a public health risk involved," said State Health and Senior Services Communications Director Jacqueline LaPine.

LaPine says cats can cause the following health issues in humans, especially in pregnant women and children:

  • Lice
  • Flees
  • Tics
  • Bite Injuries
  • Rabies
  • Cat Scratch Fever
  • Feline hook and round worms
The best way to avoid these diseases after playing in the park is to wash children hands and their toys.

But some Jefferson City residents do not see this as a safety issue. One residenting felt so strongly he took an ad out in Sunday's Jefferson City Tribune saying in part:

"A Jefferson City councilman wants to add to the Jefferson City ordinance a provision that would make it unlawful to feed a cat or dog on public property in Jefferson City. If caught, a fine would be assessed. He wants them to strave to death, or as he said in the last meeting, kill them."

Nickolaus says the city is not avocating killing animals, nor are they against trap neuter release.

"We are not necessarily against trap neuter release, that's a program that has been tried by a lot of cities across the country. Different cities have different views to how effective it is, but it is certainly something the city is willing to consider."

The City Council meets at 6 Monday night.

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