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Complaints about feral cats in Plum spur officials to draft ordinance |

Complaints about feral cats in Plum spur officials to draft ordinance

Steffi Bruninghas of Squirrel Hill, a volunteer with the Animal Rescue League, releases a feral cat that previously was trapped and spayed, on Mt. Washington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Plum officials hope a new law will discourage borough residents from befriending feral cats.

The proposed ordinance is in the draft stage and could be advertised or voted on in the next few weeks.

“It would require people who feed feral cats to be responsible for the cats,” borough Manager Michael Thomas said. “They put this food out for these cats and the cats wander and ruin property. It is occurring in multiple locations throughout the borough. It’s a real problem.”

Details of the ordinance have not been released. Violators would be subject to a fine, but no dollar amount has been set.

“We’re working through the administrative process and how this would work,” Assistant Borough Manager Dave Soboslay said. “There are a lot of details that we’re looking at. We know the goal. We’re just trying to figure out how to get to that goal. Right now staff is reviewing the ordinance that was provided by the solicitor.”

Residents’ complaints to Mayor Harry Schlegel about the cats were the catalyst for the proposed ordinance.

“It’s been an ongoing thing, and it’s more than a feral cat ordinance,” Schlegel said. “There’s going to be a couple parts to it.”

Schlegel said among the regulations he hopes get approved is one that would establish cat ownership by a resident who feeds a feline three to five times in a week.

That person would be held responsible for the cat’s care and any damage it would do thereafter.

“We’re not looking to punish people,” Schlegel said. “We’re looking to protect animals and protect properties. I don’t want to infringe upon your right to own a cat or dog. We just want to make sure you take care of it.”

He said a Plum couple in the Holiday Park neighborhood has 40 to 50 cats.

“I’m sure they’re kind-hearted people, but they can’t provide food and health care for the animals,” Schlegel said. “You have kittens having kittens, and that’s an issue. Our code enforcement can smell the property from the street. Neighbors are saying, ‘We can’t even go in our backyard because of the stench.’ Who would want to move in if you can’t sit in the backyard?”

Food left outside for cats also attracts raccoons, opossums and other wildlife, he said.

The next council workshop is 7 p.m. Nov. 5, and council’s next voting meeting is 7 p.m. Nov. 12, both at the borough building.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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