The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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May 25, 2014

Lax owners may put $1G in town kitty

Feline fine set as Norry becomes first in state to require cat papers

NORTHUMBERLAND — An idea born 18 months ago to reduce the number of feral cats in the borough comes to fruition a week from today, when Northumberland becomes the first municipality in Pennsylvania to require cat owners to purchase permits and licenses.

New permits and replacements will cost $4. A one-time lifetime permit fee of $4 is required to register a cat with a radio-frequency identification chip license.

“We will be issuing one-time warnings for first-time offenders for victims of the animal control ordinance,” said Adam Klock, a borough councilman.

Subsequent violators will be subject to fines of no less than $100 but not more than $1,000 plus court costs to the borough and any applicable expenses, according to the ordinance.

Beginning Sunday, the borough will accept online or paper applications.

The website for cat permit sales will be ready this week, Klock said.

Jason Alba of epaymentnow.com (570) 490-5888 will be operating the website that stores the license data.

Valley veterinarian Kayann Busshaus, of Furry Friends, will be sponsoring cat permitting with a coupon, which will be mailed along with each license sold, Klock said.

The idea for cat permitting was the result of several residents’ complaints to Borough Council of an increasing population of feral cats, and the associated property damage and health risk.

As word spread that council was addressing the issue, many alternative viewpoints and suggestions were shared in a public forum.

“Although most of this conversation was productive,” Klock said, “there were moments where the phrase ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ came to mind, as this can be a sensitive topic in any community.”

The advantages of county or even state-level legislation would have provided a stronger legal foundation for enforcement of a program that’s implemented on a large base of citizens.

Historically, the Pennsylvania State Dog Law has been effective in reducing the stray dog population and the spread of rabies. That was the idea behind crafting a feral cat law.

Costs associated with implementation of a cat program could be shared, possibly riding on the tails of the existing county dog licensing system. Northumberland County leaders, Klock said, need to understand that a feral cat population exists beyond that of the borough.

“While researching other municipal approaches taken on this matter and considering all public comment, including input from nonprofit organizations involved in animal rescue and Trap-Neuter-Release programs,” Klock said, “our council took action on this issue for one simple reason. Everyone agreed that a feral cat problem exists.

“Alternatively, there were differences of opinion with regards to the relative severity of health risks associated with feral cat overpopulation to humans and domestic pets, such as the effects on humans from Toxoplasma parasites found in feral cat feces and the spread of feline leukemia.”

Opinions also clashed on the effectiveness of Trap-Neuter-Release programs, outdoor feeding bans and euthanization as a means to control feral cat populations.

 

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