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South Newton won't kill feral cats

Updated: Tuesday, August 20 2013, 10:21 PM CDT
Reported by: Chris Papst

WALNUT BOTTOM -- Tempers flared Tuesday night at a township meeting in South Newton Township over what to do about a group of feral cats that are causing trouble in neighborhoods. Some residents want them to be killed, but others say that is inhumane and wont solve the problem.   

For a small township this is a big issue. Normal township meetings get about five people; tonight's had more than 75. And the peoples voices were heard. Township supervisors will not trap and euthanize its feral cat population. In fact, the township wont do anything at all.  

I had to take the tan bark out and put the stone in because they were using it as a potty, Lesa Dick said. 

Dick has a problem with feral cats about 20 to 25 live just in her alley off Main Street in Walnut Bottom. They are ruining her landscaping. 

"I want something done (but) I don't want them killed," Dick said.  But her next door neighbor has a different take. 

I'd prefer if they were gone, Nate Deitch said.

This whole debate started earlier this summer when a young child was playing in a day care playground and stuck his fingers through a fence at a cat. That cat later tested positive for rabies.

That child went through painful rabies treatment. In response, the township supervisors drafted a plan to trap all the feral cats and euthanize them. But that triggered a massive outcry.

At Tuesday night's township meeting, various animal rights organizations offered free services to trap, neuter and return the animals with rabies vaccines.

In the end, the township supervisors punted, saying they didn't want to get into a further debate about cats. But they will allow outside organizations to offer services. One is PAWS, which will give the community 30 free surgeries.

"I'm sort of perplexed how they could afford to trap and kill the cats but they can't afford to invest in progressive programs that will ensure public health and safety down the road," Kathy Fitzkee with PAWS said.

Neighbors in South Newton Township say this problem started about 18 months ago when one or two homeowners let their cats out and allowed them to reproduce around town. So many of the people stressed the real solution is accountability.  South Newton won't kill feral cats


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