VANDALIA — The Vandalia City Council is a step closer to passing a ban on the outdoor feeding of animals.
A draft ordinance the would prohibit feeding wild animals or feeding one’s own pets in a way that attracts wild animals was discussed at the council’s study session on Monday. The ordinance is in response to what some residents see as an overpopulation of feral cats.
Video of Monday’s City Council meeting is here:
Residents along Bristol Drive have written council about the problem and one, Kathleen Durig, urged council to pass an ordinance at a meeting last month.
I care deeply about the inhumane treatment of any animal, but…after research came to a startling realization,” Durig said. “Feeding and giving shelter to community feral cats that have had litter after litter of kittens who have never been seen or cared for by a veterinarian are doomed to a lifetime of misery. Because of this, I consider the feeding and sheltering of these community cats a form of animal abuse because it promotes the life-long suffering of these hapless creatures.”
Brenda Morris, a resident on Grosbeck Street, disputed that the cats were a problem and urged council to use the services of the Animal Rescue Center where she volunteers.
“I have lived here eight years and have not seen one stray dog or stray cat,” said Morris. “If there’s a problem, people need to call the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. They will have the animal neutered or spayed and released.”
Deborah Smith and Jody Patton, Co-Founders of Calico TNR out of Springfield, urged council to consider a trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program.
“Calico TNR urges the city council commission not to pass a feeding ban,” said Smith. “Feeding bans are counterproductive because the undermine the only successful method of addressing the feral cat population which is trap, neuter, return. Feeding bans will not reduce the feral cat population because feral cats do not rely on people feeding them to survive.”
Council Member Bob Ahlers said he didn’t have a problem with TNR programs but was concerned about citizens leaving food out that was attracting other wild animals.
“I don’t think any of us have a problem with TNR,” said Ahlers. “The issue is with leaving food out that is attracting raccoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes. That’s basically, if we do pass an ordinance, that’s what it is addressing.
“We educate on that,” she said. “If you are going to feed, you don’t do it after hours, after dark.”
“That argument has been made and rejected by certain citizens who continue to do it (feed after dark) even though their neighbors have begged them to stop,” said Council Member Dave Gerhard. “That has created skunk issues and dogs getting sprayed.”
“As of right now, we needed to do something quickly to alert people that feeding outside after dark is not going to be permitted,” said Mayor Arlene Setzer. “We want to try to change how people feed. That is not to say we wouldn’t welcome a (TNR) group. We are not equipped to organize that group of people and know what to do so if there are some people here in Vandalia who are willing to take on the job you are doing, it seems all over, we would be most appreciative.”
A first reading of the ordinance is expected at the March 20 council meeting. A second reading could come as early as April 3 and take effect 30 days later.