CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A proposed cat ordinance in the City of Charleston has been put on hold.
“We are going to take the input that we got from the public, which was very good, and begin to work on the bill and try to refine it,” said Charleston City Council’s Ordinance & Rules Committee Chair Jack Harrison.
During public hearing Monday evening, community members voiced their concerns about a proposed cat ordinance sitting before the Ordinance & Rules Committee that would, among other things, restrict the number of cats one could have to three, unless they had a special permit for more and an enforced fine for the owners of cats that ran all over the neighborhood.
Anthony Majestro, who lives on the east end, lets his cat run around the neighborhood. He did not like the bill.
“This proposed bill would make it illegal for me to let my cat do what is natural to him,” he said.
Majestro along with numerous other residents thought it hurt the wrong people.
“I think we can solve the problems we have with cats in the city without punishing the responsible pet owners who get their cats fixed, vaccinated and make sure they’re not a nuisance to other people,” Majestro said.
John Taylor, who lives on Sugar Creek, told the committee that he is just fed up with the mess the cats leave behind at his house.
“There are irresponsible cat owners that have cats that keep breeding, having more cats, they come over and do their business like urinate and feces in my flower bed and in my yard,” he said.
The opinions on how to fix the cat problem varied, but everyone agreed that irresponsible pet owners were to blame. Taylor said this would be a different story if people were more responsible when it came to their pets.
“I’m a responsible pet owner. My dog stays in my house and he stays in my fenced in yard and he never, ever goes out of it,” he said. “If people would be responsible for their pets, there wouldn’t be this problem.”
One of the possible solutions that was brought up several times during the meeting was the trap and release method where feral cats are captured, spayed or neutered and given the necessary shots and then released back into the neighborhoods.
Residents questioned whether that would really take care of the problem, while city officials debated the costs of undergoing such a plan in Charleston.
After an hour long meeting, committee members heard enough opposition to vote to table the proposed ordinance for further consideration. Harrison said this is something they really need to look more into.
“This is an emotional issue and we are serious about the work that we do and so we are going to go back, take what we learned and try to put together some reasonable bill that will address some of the problems that we have,” he said.
The committee plans to address the matter again at their next meeting. No time line was given for the proposal.