COPPERAS COVE — A catfight may be brewing over the Copperas Cove City Council’s recent decision to make it illegal to trap, neuter and release feral cats in city limits.
Owner of Kathy’s Kitties, Kathy Kwieran, who lives in the Copperas Cove’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, will meet with several Copperas Cove residents and other animal rescue group leaders Saturday at the public library to discuss plans on seeking a formal petition of referendum, which could put the decision in the hands of voters.
“I have a clinic that works with residents of Copperas Cove,” Kwieran said, noting she has more than 300 clients in the city and helped neuter many feral cats from Cove. “I want to help the citizens of Cove get what they want. I have just had so many calls since this happened.”
The group wants to repeal a Sept. 3 amendment to the animal control ordinance. It states 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 no more than $200.
Definitions for feral and domestic cats also were created in the amendment.
A feral cat is a feline that is wild, untamed or unsocialized, the ordinance stated.
A domestic cat is defined as one that does not show long-term fear and resistance to contact with humans.
By using the official petition process in the city charter, residents “have the power to repeal at the polls any ordinance enacted by the City Council,” the charter stated.
“This is definitely the way to go because we will get results instead of just making a statement to the council,” said Patricia Gomez, a Cove resident planning to back the petition.
The group will have 45 days to gather signatures from Cove voters. They need to reach more than 2.5 percent of voters who participated in the city’s previous election.
In November, the city’s bond election to move Fire Station 2 received 6,741 total votes, meaning petitioners will need more than 169 signatures.
Kwieran started circulating an informal petition earlier this month when she discovered the council was proposing to adopt the ordinance amendments on Sept. 3.
That petition garnered about 100 signatures within days, and a week after the amendments were approved, had more than 500 signatures.
If the new petition receives enough signatures, it will be filed with the city secretary’s office, which will review the list of residents before moving the document to the council.
The council will then have 30 days to either repeal the ordinance or it will go to an election.
“I don’t see them rethinking it,” Gomez said. “They have pretty much made their decision. I want it to go to election. This way the people of Copperas Cove are the ones that decide it and then we could deal with it from there.”
Regardless of the petition’s outcome, the issue won’t be resolved in November’s election.
The deadline to establish the ballot has already passed.