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Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Residents oppose cat ordinance amendment

By Janie Southard
ST. MARYS - A group of 30 or so residents voiced their opinions on the cat ordinance amendment during council's second reading Monday night. One resident is "sick and tired of cat poop" in her yard. Another resident just wants her pets back.
Resident and former council member Judy Weng presented a petition with 50-plus signatures against the proposed cat ordinance, which would require owners to get a $10 license for their cats and those who want to trap to get permits from the city.
Among the nine reasons set forth by Weng are:
• Cats are natural predators of mice/rodents and they provide a benefit to the city.
• This ordinance does not correct current legislation, which forbids trapping of wild/nuisance animals but permits trapping of domestic/companion animals, such as dogs and cats.
"Owners of cats should not have to register or pay fees to keep anyone from luring their pet into another's yard for the purpose of trapping then abandoning these pets," Weng read from the petition.
And that is the main issue Weng brought to the city several months ago.
In a nutshell: Weng's neighbor's cats went missing this past summer. The neighbor said the man living behind her had a trap in his yard. The man in question, who later admitted to police that he had trapped the cats and released them "somewhere in the country," would not say where he had dumped them.
That man, Robert Longfellow, 801 Hillcrest Ave., who was present at the council meeting Monday, said he had "shooed (the cats) away several times" and that he trapped them "between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. only - when they should have been inside anyway." Later he said he "never told the police I trapped cats."
Resident Barb Lhamon, also of 801 Hillcrest Ave., told council she was tired of all the cat feces. She stated in the St. Marys City Police Department report of Aug. 26 that she "does have a trap in the back yard of her house and traps cats due to them being a nuisance."
She further stated in that report that nothing bad happens to the cats. "They are simply taken out into the country where they are dropped off," she said in the report.
Jolene Burke, 806 Bryarly Circle, whose property abuts Lhamon's, told police she believes four of her cats were trapped and taken away. She told police she just wants her cats back, or at least to know where they were dumped.
The ordinance amendment also provides that if the cat can be identified, it must be brought to a holding agent as designated by the city safety service director. The cat's owner can then retrieve it from the agent for a fee not to exceed $50.
If it cannot be identified, the agent can destroy it in a humane manner.
If a cat is trapped without a permit, the person trapping could be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by the maximum $100.
Weng's petition suggests the ordinance be amended to reflect PETA, ASPCA and U.S. Humane Society legal terms.
"Delete the reference to the Ohio Revised Code and add 'any animal, including dog, cats, domestic or companion animals' in the hunting/trapping ordinance 505.11," Weng read. "Make a second and subsequent offense a more serious offense."
Council passed second reading after hearing public opinion.
Also at the meeting, resident Bob Valentine again objected to the last safety committee meeting where a majority of council members were present and participated in the discussion. His contention is that, while the safety meeting itself was advertised according to Ohio Sunshine Law, the fact that the additional council members were present made the committee meeting a council meeting. It was not advertised as such, he said.
Council members also passed a resolution in support of delaying the move of the U. S. Postal Service processing facility from Lima to Toledo.
The council finance committee will meet Monday at 5:15 p.m. in council chambers.
The second meeting in December has been changed from Dec. 28 to Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
Additional online story on this date
Dale Sherman, president of the Minster Local Schools board of education, pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence during a recent appearance in Auglaize Municipal Court. [More]
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