September 15, 2014

LOL debut: Who let the cats out?

City considering feral cat ordinance after Almont Street complaints

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH — Almont Street has gone to the dogs… err cats.

About ten people who live on Almont Street in Standish attended the City Council meeting on June 18 hissing at council members to address the feral cat situation, which is one hairball that won’t cough up.

Sharon Crouterfield, an Almont Street resident, was the spokesperson for the concerned citizens, saying that cats, some with owners living on the street and some stray but being fed on the street, are tearing up lawns and flower beds, attacking pets and, of course, using the street as their litter box.

“Some people are complaining they can’t open their windows because the smell is so strong,” said Standish City Manager Mike Moran. “They have loose cats in the neighborhood that are leaving fecal deposits and such in the property.”

Rose Kiley, a resident on Almont Street is one of the residents Moran referenced.

“The cat situation is so bad that I can’t open my windows,” she said. “We smell like mothball city on our street.

“It’s out of hand.”

Crouterfield says she has contacted Arenac County Animal Control about the issue and was temporarily given one of the agency’s three live traps, which is reserved for the city, but that it wasn’t successful in alleviating the cat problem.

Kiley added that dog owners are required to have dogs on a leash and carry plastic bags to clean up after the pets, but cat owners have no such requirements.

That’s why Moran says the city is taking a serious look at the current ordinance for pets in the city, which addresses dogs, but not cats,

“There are several problems with roaming animals,” Moran said. “We certainly need a much stronger ordinance. … In fact, our ordinance doesn’t talk about cats at all and that’s something I’m looking at.”

However, even if cats are addressed in a city ordinance, Council member Richard Vollbach says he doesn’t think the stench and inconveniences would be deodorized.

“We have one animal control officer in the county,” he said. “The problem, I think, is going to be enforcement.”

City Police Chief Mark Christian added that proving who owns the cats causing problems on the street would also be a challenge, since the city’s ordinance doesn’t require any sort of collar and licenses for cats.

Moran says the ordinance doesn’t call for a maximum amount of pets that can be owned, either, and that should be addressed since Almont Street residents at the meeting alleged that at least one house on the street is home to nine cats, which roam freely on the street.

Unfortunately for other residents in the city of Standish, the cats seem to be taking their Almont Street antics to other areas of the city.

One victim of the spreading problem is Standish Mayor Kevin King, who does not live on Almont Street.

“I’m feeling your pain a little bit too,” he said to Crouterfield and others. “I had one (cat) get in my garage and destroy $250 worth of lawn furniture.

“I want an ordinance too.”

Keep up with the feral cat issue on arenacindependent.com and in future issues of the Independent.

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