COPPERAS COVE — A $10,000 price tag to put the feral cat issue before the voters may have been a driving force behind the City Council’s repeal of the city’s controversial feral cat ordinance Tuesday night.
Councilman Kenn Smith was the lone member of the council who voted against the repeal, with all others voting in favor. Not present was Jim Schmitz, City Council Place 6.
“I think $10,000 for a special election gagged a lot of people,” Smith said. “I was not in favor of repeal because I think that we passed a good ordinance. Other council members had their reasons for voting for (the repeal). I didn’t happen to agree.”
Some members of the audience broke into applause when the council voted in favor of the repeal. There was zero discussion on the issue in the public meeting.
The council went into executive session for less than 30 minutes to discuss the issue before returning to vote for an immediate repeal.
On Sept. 3, the council amended an animal control ordinance in an attempt to stop trap, neuter and release programs, commonly referred to as TNR, for feral cats in the city.
The ordinance stated no feral cat shall be released within the city limits and it is unlawful for any person to feed feral cats within the city limits. Those who violated the ordinance could be fined not more than $200.
In response, a five-member petition committee was immediately formed, and the group went to work to gather at least 486 registered voters’ signatures in 45 days. The petition was turned in Nov. 25 with 540 signatures.
Petition organizers said they were “ecstatic” the city voted to repeal the controversial ordinance.
“We are super excited that the city saw the immediate will of the citizens of Cove and voted to repeal the ordinance,” said Patricia Gomez, who headed up the petition drive to require the city to repeal the ordinance or put the item on the municipal ballot in May.
Rose Brimhall was one of the leaders of the petition drive and said education of both the public and the council is next on the group’s agenda.
“Educating people on the importance of TNR is vital to keep the number of cats from increasing,” Brimhall said.
The group also said it would be recommending to the council mandatory microchipping of animals.
“It’s important to hold the people accountable for their pets,” Gomez said.