The Copperas Cove City Council asked city staff to draft an ordinance prohibiting any form of a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats in the city limits.
Trapping and releasing at-large animals are already prohibited by the city ordinance as is feeding stray animals. But City Manager Andrea Gardner said her staff will work to clarify the ordinance and forbid such activities from taking place, as was directed by the council.
“I am a cat person,” said Councilman Kenn Smith, who made the request backed by numerous other council members present at a Tuesday meeting. “But the issue of feral cats is not the same.”
Councilwoman Cheryl Meredith and Councilman Jim Schmitz were not at the meeting.
The council’s decision comes after the topic has been discussed for about four years by members of the Animal Advisory Committee. It also comes after the council gave the direction to the two differing opinion factions in the committee to come to a compromise and draft an ordinance by a marginal decision last December.
Vice chairwoman Michaela Ramos said Tuesday said she was trying to do that when she attempted to place the issue back on the committee’s agenda.
“I want to stop any litter from being born,” Ramos said Tuesday night to the council.
Her suggestion was to continue to allow residents to trap cats and surrender them to animal control, but also allow animal welfare groups to operate trap, neuter and release programs.
Ramos said she was not allowed to present her plan to the committee.
Instead, the committee killed the suggestion before hearing it by a vote of 3 to 2.
“This is a very heated topic that has been going on time after time,” said Beau Brabbin, the committee’s chairman.
“It has been voted down each time.”
Every time the group meets, a form of trap, neuter and release is on its agenda, Brabbin said.
Creating a trap, neuter and release program does not solve the city’s problems of dealing with nuisance animals who may cause property damage and defecate in residents’ yards, said Deputy Police Chief Mike Heintzelman, who also is on the committee.
Residents have been trapping cats daily and surrendering them to animal control, but Heintzelman didn’t know of any true cat colonies.
“We can’t go back to this every six months,” Smith said.
Committee member Robyn Bandinel, who was not at the last animal advisory meeting and was called out during Tuesday’s council meeting for her lack of attendance, said the group is once again “regressing.”
“We are all supposed to play nice, and I don’t see that being done,” Bandinel said Tuesday.
Despite Bandinel being present at Tuesday’s meeting, the council authorized Mayor John Hull to send her a letter reminding her of her obligation to the committee.
Bandinel said she sent several emails to the group stating she would miss meetings because of family obligations.
“The attached letter simply ensures Robyn is properly notified of the council’s concern of her lack of attendance at the meeting and that the ordinance provides language for removal should the council decide it appropriate,” stated the council’s agenda item.
No time line was given Tuesday for the drafting of the ordinance, but the council directed the staff to handle it rather than the committee.
The Animal Advisory Committee is regulated by state law because the city operates an animal shelter.
Its job is to focus on how the city manages the shelter and programs that “benefit not only the residents but the animals,” Heintzelman said.