Solution to feral cat problem offered

By Karen Fallon
Carla Leardi and Jenny Lejoie from the Cat Assistance Team Amherstburg presented council with a solution to the town’s feral and stray cat problem after hearing concerns expressed by Wendy Ouellette at a previous council meeting.
Although feral cats are deemed the product of human neglect, in Leardi’s estimation there are some people in the town who are: “So angry about the problem that they are ready to take matters into their own hands.”
“Some believe that rounding up all of the cats and then euthanizing them is the quickest, most inexpensive solution, said Leardi. “This is false on both accounts and is not a solution at all.”
According to an earlier report by Benda Percy, the issue of feral cats is not an isolated problem and control of feral cats has become one of the most controversial issues in animal control and animal welfare organizations.
Numerous studies have showed that the only method of controlling the feral cat population is the trap, neuter, release program, which, says Leardi, has proven successful in many cities across North America.
The Cat assistance Team Amherstburg formed approximately year-and-a-half ago after “a group of like-minded individuals” came together to address and attempt to solve the expanding feral and stray cat problem in the town.”
Since then the group has held fundraising events, which with the support of local veterinarians, has resulted in the spaying and neutering of over 150 feral and stray cats and homes have been found for 60 of the felines.
However, this has only scratched the surface of the problem, says Leardi. “This problem grows with the amount of time that we wait. This is the most cost effective solution and time is of the essence.”
“The Cat Assistance team is first in what is known as the Pepsi Challenge. If we are successful we will receive $10,000 which will be put directly towards trapping, spaying and neutering,” said Leardi, who encouraged everyone to go on-line and vote for the organization.
The group also sought support from the town via the donation of a piece of municipal land which would be used to erect a shelter to relocate the cats from the town core and the donation of $10,000 to put towards the program.
“What we would like to ask for is a piece of land enough to create three or four different colonies,” said Leardi. “Our ultimate goal is to remove the nuisance of these feral cats from the Town of Amherstburg.”
“There is a huge public education piece that has to take place here too,” said councillor John Sutton. “Because it really is a people driven problem, we feed stray cats, we have soft hearts and we end up making the problem worse…”
Councilor Carolyn Davies’ motion to establish a working group to address feral and stray cat solution was supported by council.
According to Ouellette there are currently approximately 30 feral cats in the vicinity of her home on Seymour Street and this only represents a small portion of the problem which is growing rapidly.
The first of two fundraising dinners in support of the Cat Assistance Team will be held on April 9 at the Legion.

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