A proposed ordinance that would require people who feed stray cats to become responsible for those cats was tabled at last night's Tamaqua Council meeting. Cathy Miorelli, a resident of Owl Creek, and former councilwoman, asked council why they wanted to adopt the ordinance. She said that in essence, the ordinance will punish people for committing acts of kindness. Citing herself as an "expert in the field," she said that the ordinance is not going to help the current feral cat problem in Tamaqua. "If you think they're doing property damage now, it is only going to go up," she said.
Councilman Brian Connely said that the ordinance had been discussed at a meeting with the Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue group and he thought that the group agreed that the ordinance could be made to work. Connely said that the borough will not actively go looking to cite people who might be putting food out for stray cats, but in the event of an incident, "damage to people's property, people getting injured by cats," the borough would have a process to go after the "owner" of the cats for the expenses of trapping, fixing, and bringing the animal up to date on shots. "If there is a complaint and people aren't doing the responsible thing, we have something we can act upon," said Connely.
Sue Schafer, Tamaqua's animal control officer, and the president of the Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue said that council needs to do more to control the situation by funding trap and release programs. Schafer explained that there are mobile clinics that will come in and trap an entire colony of feral cats, spay or neuter them, give them rabies shots, and then release them back into the community. Schafer said that this is an effective means of controlling the population because once they are fixed, there will not be any more kittens born to the colony and it will not grow. Schafer said the process costs about $35 per cat and her organization does not have the funds to do the work that needs to be done in Tamaqua. "We only have three fundraisers a year," she said. "I have about $1,200 in the T&R fund." Schafer added that in addition to the stray cats that are outdoors, many indoor cats in the town are not up to date on their shots.
Although council voted to advertise the proposed ordinance for adoption at their last meeting, Councilmen Tom Cara, Dan Evans, Ken Smulligan, and John Trudich voted to table the final vote on the ordinance at least night's meeting.