By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
The Humane Society of Warren County wants to inform the community of how they can help with feral and free-range cats after Front Royal officials recently brought citizens' concern over the issue to light.
Macy Gallo, the Kennel Team Coordinator, said she recognizes the issue and hopes residents know what their options are when it comes to stray cats.
The Humane Society works with the Shenandoah Valley Spay and Neuter Clinic in Harrisonburg, she said.
"We take cats there every other Wednesday," she said. Residents can bring cats in to the Humane Society, which will take the animals to the clinic and bring them back the next day. Spay and neutering is $60 for female cats and $45 for males.
One resident at a recent town council work session said she has a neighbor with anywhere from 10 to 20 cats, and they spray and urinate in her yard. She felt, after contacting Animal Control, local veterinarians and town officials, that she had no solution to the issue.
"People have the right to trap an animal when it comes onto their property," Gallo said. By state law, the Humane Society will hold the animal for five days to give any owner a chance to collect it.
After that, Gallo says that some cats, like strays with human contact, can be assessed for adoptability, but other feral cats that are unable to "warm up" to people will have to be euthanized.
"Those numbers have gone down a little every year," she said. "We've also seen a slight decrease in intakes, so maybe we're working toward a solution."
Gallo also said that the organization would like to have a spay and neuter clinic on site in the next two or three years.
"We really need to educate people about fixing, so they can control their animal population," she said. "We just trying to stay neutral on the topic."
One option the town might have is to adopt a licensing ordinance, though it would have to be enforced by Animal Control, which is a county agency.
"Something like that would take a long time to implement and it would be very difficult to enforce," Gallo said.
A representative from the Humane Society will be present at the town and county liaison meeting on the 17th.
A discussion on the feral and free-range cat issue is on the agenda.