COPPERAS COVE — The City Council Tuesday amended an animal control ordinance — attempting to stop trap, neuter and release programs for feral cats in the city, despite several residents’ outcries.
The ordinance stated no feral cat shall be released within the city limits and that it is unlawful for any person to feed feral cats within the city limits. Those who violate the ordinance can be fined not more than $200.
Definitions for feral and domestic cats also were created in the new ordinance.
A feral cat is a feline that is wild, untamed or unsocialized, the ordinance stated. A domestic cat is determined because it does not show long-term fear and resistance to contact with humans.
“Do you want (the cats) to pack up and leave, because they are not,” Cove resident Elke Friedlein said to the council Tuesday. “Go after the problem in the first place ... not the people trying to help the problem.”
Friedlein was one of nine residents who spoke against the ordinance and one of about 30 who were present to see if the council would approve it.
The ordinance prohibits Cove residents like William Lepisto from operating cat colonies. Lepisto, who also spoke Tuesday, said he has caught and spayed at least 70 cats since 2011.
“You are now making criminals of my neighbors who are trying to show a little compassion,” Cove resident Brian Heitman said.
These are all residents trying to fix a problem that the city can’t and won’t fix — the growing cat population in cat colonies, Cove resident David Moore said. All sorts of animals are dumped by residents who don’t care about their pets, and the few residents who are paying out of their own pockets and not wasting tax dollars can now be punished.
The council’s decision to institute the ordinance comes after years of debate among the Animal Advisory Committee. Several committee members were trying to regulate cat colonies so the city had input into how they are managed. Other members of the committee, however, feel that maintaining cat colonies is a health risk.
In December, the two differing factions on the committee were told to come to a compromise and draft an ordinance. A compromise was not found.
A Kempner resident, Kathy Kwieran, who operates a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Killeen, has already started a petition to reverse the ordinance. She has collected more than 100 Copperas Cove residents’ signatures already.