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Rockwood takes aim at feral cat problem

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‘People call us. They want us to do something’

By Cindy Simpson

Feral cats and the number of animals on one property were addressed in ordinances approved in first reading by Rockwood City Council recently.
The feral cat ordinance establishes a definition of a feral cat and cat colonies, what the ordinance calls “more than five free roaming cats.”
Mayor James Watts said problems with cats are the reason behind the ordinances.
“We have had a long a long history with cat problems. And basically what we have done is we have passed an ordinance that will allow us to have some control of the wild cat problem,” Watts said.
“People call us. They want us to do something,” Watts added.
The proposed cat ordinance would allow the animal control officer to file a notice of abatement giving the “owner or renter of the property the right to dispose of the cats within a specified period of time.”
A municipal court order woud be required for the animal control officer to remove the colonies if abatement is not followed.
The ordinance also gives the animal control officer authority to investigate cat hoarding, although Watts said he was not aware of any cat-hoarding problems.
The feral cat ordinance also has wording regarding a kennel.
Kennels are defined as “an establishment in which more than five dogs, cats or any other domesticated animal over 3 months old are housed, boarded, breed, trained, groomed or sold.” Kennels would only be allowed in areas zoned commercial.
Rules also involve keeping animal vaccines current, restraining animals from roaming off the premise and keeping the property free of animal waste and other debris.
Kennels must also have “adequate housing facilities that are structurally sound and shall be designed to house the animal(s) from the elements including heat, cold rain or snow.”
Kennel operators must have a business license with the city of Rockwood.
The feral cat ordinance gives authorities  discretion regarding kennels if the property owner with five or more cats has them in his residence, the animals are vaccinated and the residence is fit for human habitation.