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The feral cat population is booming in Chatham County. Here's what's being done to change that

Emma Hamilton

Updated: 5:28 PM EST Jan 17, 2020

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. —

On Friday, Chatham County Commissioners voted to approve changes to the Animal Ordinance.

Some of these changes include making it legal to feed cats on public property, allowing code officers to cite people for neglect and cruelty and changing the rabies vaccination age to 14 weeks rather than six months.

At a public workshop on the proposed changes on January 7, the community expressed wanting to come up with a different way to address the overpopulation of feral cats rather than euthanizing them.

That language did not get added on Friday, but something else did that the community did not get to weigh in on.
All of the commissioners said they were happy with the six changes proposed that the community was able to weigh in on in early January.

But just recently, language was added that gives Animal Services Director Dr. Jake Harper the discretion to work with different groups or create programs to address the feral cat issue in the county.

“Mind you, that was not on the initial agenda. When we went through those six things, that wasn’t on the initial it was added and then told to us maybe two days ago," said Chatham County Commissioner of the sixth district James "Jay" Jones.

The community never knew about this addition and asked last week for the feral cat issue to be addressed directly, rather than vaguely giving Dr. Harper the discretion to do what he thinks is best.

“My thing is, in 2017, I stated this and I’ll say it again: we did not have enough community input. All I care about is community input. I don’t care about race, color or anything like that, it’s all about community input and I think with us in Chatham County, we need to have more community input. Make sure the people are heard and their message is sent," Jones said.

Many people believe a program referred to as, "TNVR" is the answer to overpopulation problem.
“Trap, neuter, vaccinate and return. Basically you’re trapping cats, you’re spaying and neutering them vaccinating them and returning them back to where they came from. Eventually, the population goes down and then you’ll have less cats. Its been proven all over the state and basically the country that trapping and killing doesn’t work. We’re still in the same cat problem we’ve been in for the past 40 years," said One Love Animal Rescue member and Chatham County resident Katy Cohen.

Jones said, “I saw we are averaging about 2,400 euthanized animals per year. And if this is the truth, what are the options?"

“The goal for everyone here is to have less cats. I guess the issue is how to get to that goal?," Cohen added.
Commissioners Jones and Dean Kicklighter both advocated to add different language and come back to the issue, but Chairman Al Scott decided to move forward with the vote.

“We have a lot of seniors in our community that can’t deal with these cats running around. The vaccinations last three years, who’s rounding the cats up at the end of the three years to re-vaccinate them?"

With the majority approval of the revisions to the animal ordinance, it will go into effect February 1, 2020

https://www.wjcl.com/article/chatham-county-is-the-1-cat-killing-county-in-georgia-heres-whats-being-done-to-change-that/30571272


Committee to Elect James "Jay" Jones
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