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Cat advocates, Fayette County business park at odds over stray cats

Chuck Biedka
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Cat advocates and a Fayette County business park disagree on what should be done with about 50 stray cats at the park in Smithfield, south of Uniontown, on Monday, Dec. 17,2018.

Cat advocates and managers at a Fayette County business park disagree about how to care for 50 or more stray cats living inside the 500-acre park in Smithfield, south of Uniontown.

Both sides say they need to talk, but they disagree about how long it may take to move the cats.

Advocates of Fix Your Cat said they have been going to the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council Industrial Complex for 10 years to care for cats — even going so far to build small shelters so the cats can get out of the weather.

That shows “implied consent” on the part of the business park, said Fix Your Cat spokeswoman Amy Barrette.

Fay-Penn Director Bob Shark disagrees.

Fix Your Cat members said state police told the group that cat food at the small cat homes is attracting vermin and that puts about 2,200 workers at risk.

Fay-Penn officials said Fix Your Cat members were told by a state trooper not to trespass and to stop feeding the cats.

Fay-Penn officials said they gave the cat group 10 days earlier this month to “find a suitable solution.”

However, Fay-Penn wrote in a letter to the cat group, “rather than attempting to resolve the matter, you and your group have taken no action, instead choosing to inflame passions through media outlets.”

Barrette strongly disagrees with the vermin claim and said she contacted the media after Fay-Penn managers had the cat homes unilaterally bulldozed Wednesday.

Fix Your Cat members are worried upcoming inclement weather will be dangerous to the cats, Barrett said.

Fay-Penn says the Fix Your Cat members shouldn’t be trespassing to feed or care for the cats.

The letter to the group alleges that the cat food is attracting skunks and rats and that poses an “unacceptable risk.”

Fay-Penn claims the cat advocates need to meet with Fay-Penn officials to resolve the disagreement about care for the cats.

Fix Your Cat said earlier talks went nowhere.

In the letter, Fay-Penn is “agreeable to hiring a licensed wildlife contractor to trap and remove the cats” from the park. “However, as humane shelters do not accept wild cats, you (Fix Your Cats) must immediately identify an appropriate, contained place for their relocation.”

Barrette said that deadline is unrealistic.

“Rescue groups are willing to work with Fay-Penn to accomplish the humane removal and relocation of the cats, however, the center needs to understand that this is a process that cannot be done quickly. Relocating feral cats requires much more than simply releasing them on different property. The center can confirm the process simply by researching ‘relocation of feral cats’ online. Alley Cat Allies provides articles about the process,” Amy Barrette said.

“There are 50 plus cats that will need to be relocated. Rescues will have to find barns or other suitable locations. All of this takes time. Expecting this in the dead of winter, and over the holidays, when many people are simply unavailable, is not realistic,” she said.

While talks are under way, the “center should do the humane, morally and ethically correct thing, and allow the feeders to provide shelters and feed the cats, who face starvation, hypothermia, frostbite and death,” she said.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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