NEW BRITAIN â€“ The Common Councilâ€™s Consolidated Subcommittee met Thursday to discuss an ordinance in the city that would change how residents feed stray cats.
The ordinance has many sections aimed to ensure the wellbeing and safety of animals and the cityâ€™s residents, but sections related to feeding stray cats has caused some controversy in the city. Many sections of the ordinance proposal gives guidelines and rules to â€śferal cat keepers,â€ť meaning those regularly provide food for feral cat colonies. Here are a few of them:
- The keeper will be responsible for having cats within the colony spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies.
- Any kittens which are observed within a feral cat colony shall be reported to the New Britain Police Department and shall be trapped and removed from the colony by the Police Department or a designated animal welfare organization in an effort to rehabilitate and domestic them for purposes of adoption.
- No keepers shall feed feral cats on private property without consent of the property owner. No keepers shall provide food to feral cat colonies in a manner that causes a nuisance for persons residing in that area. No person shall set up shelters without written consent of the owner of the properties where shelters are placed.
- No food or water shall be left unattended for more than four hours. All food and water shall be removed by dusk.
The Director of Health and the New Britain Police Department would have the duty of enforcing the new ordinance. Fine amounts and details of what enforcement would be are not included in the ordinance.
The ordinance also adds several definitions for things like roaming cat, feral cat, colony and many more. The full text of the ordinance proposal, as well as the video of Thursdayâ€™s meeting, can be found online at www.newbritainct.gov/gov/common_council/ and clicking the â€śAgenda, Minutes, Live Stream & Videoâ€ť tab.
Paula Poplawski, chairwoman of the cityâ€™s Animal Welfare Commission, spoke in favor of the ordinance amendment, saying that it cleans up language and provides guidelines. She suggested the city set up a fund to help people spay or neuter the stray cats, which is mandatory in the ordinance.
â€śI would also ask that this commission think about starting a fund of at least $5,000 to support some of the spay and neuter attempts for the groups that want to come into these areas and trap, neuter and spay,â€ť Poplawski said.
Resident Manny Sandoval also spoke in favor of the ordinance, saying that people feeding stray cats have affected his neighborhoodâ€™s quality of life and cleanliness.
â€śI like animals, but when they impact my lifestyle and my property, I have a problem of it,â€ť Sandoval said.
More than 10 residents spoke against the ordinance.
Resident Krystyna Fiedorczyk said sheâ€™s been feeding stray cats for many years.
â€śItâ€™s not their fault that theyâ€™re that way,â€ť Fiedorczyk said. â€śWhat we need to do is find these cats, get them spayed, find homes for them and take care of the ones that are out there.â€ť
â€śThis is an easy fix. If the major issue is that some of the feeding stations are unsanitary and or unsightly, this is an easy fix, we do not need an ordinance. We do not need all this administrative, bureaucratic stuff to try and implement it, manage it, supervise it, etcetera,â€ť said resident Cathy DeMarco.
Following public participation, Sgt. Paula Keller said that she has been collaborating with the Health Department for months on the ordinance. Keller said Animal Control regularly receives calls from frustrated residents who have these stray cats on their properties. Keller acknowledged that volunteers and help feeding and protecting strays are needed, but an ordinance would only help.
â€śUnless we have some kind of structure in place for how the food is going to be left out, not leaving it out overnight, not leaving a mess, weâ€™re really just leaving ourselves open for complaints,â€ť Keller said.
Following the discussion, the Consolidated Subcommittee voted to table the ordinance proposal. Members of the council said they appreciated the feedback from residents and would like to further tweak and edit the proposal.
â€śWe are going to work, as a team, to make those changes so that it is a reasonable solution,â€ť Alderman Robert Smedley said.