On February 19, 2014, I received a "Courtesy Notice" from Columbia Borough Code Compliance Department. This was taped to my front door. The handwritten part was difficult to decipher, but appears to say, "Feeding of cats see sect. 403 D 9 keeping of pets Col Boro ordinance". The printed section, animal waste/outdoor feeding of animals, was check-marked. Also on the form it states that I must comply by February 20, 2014.
My work with the feral cat spay/neuter program began in the summer of 2012. With the help of the Lancaster County Cat Rescue organization, I successfully trapped 4 cats and drove them to the Humane League of Lancaster County. This was done on my day off from work, using my own time, vehicle, gas, and money to accomplish the task. I was able to spay 3 females and neuter one male. They all were given rabies shots and the male was treated for fleas. I signed a paper stating that I was their caregiver and detailing the importance of caring for the cats after the surgery. Lancaster County Cat Rescue also prefers that the colony continue to be cared for which includes feeding. I was able to immediately find a home for the youngest one of the four cats, leaving me with only three. Within a year another one was killed, I found her body in a gutter about a block from my home. I do not know if she was hit by a car or if someone deliberately killed her. That left me with 2 cats.
Over the next year, I found two kittens and surrendered both to the Humane League. They were too young for shots and too young to be neutered/spayed, so no doubt were euthanized. In November of 2013, I captured and surrendered a female cat to the SPCA of Lancaster at a cost to me of 45.00 dollars. This time I had purchased my own live trap (from Tractor Supply) in order to continue this program. All of the cat surrenders are documented, so there is a record of the transactions.
I had written to Mayor Lutz about the efforts and the feral cat problem within this Borough. I even went as far as to offer my assistance with beginning a local program. Columbia could recruit the help of local veterinarians in an effort to keep all the money in Columbia. Careful documentation could be used to track the progress of such a program. I remain willing to help spearhead a program for the borough.
My personal feelings about being issued a notice to stop feeding the cats are as follows:
My husband and I were both born in Columbia, giving us a right to be here. We both have paid property taxes here for many years. Even though our mortgage is paid, we continue to "rent" our property from Columbia Borough through property taxes. Now Columbia wants to be my landlord, telling me that I cannot put a dish of cat food out on my own property.
I walked on Walnut Street yesterday afternoon and I counted 9 separate piles of dog feces. On any given day there are that many piles at the River Park. Is there an ordinance about this, yes…is anyone enforcing that…apparently not. The deadly Parvo Virus was found on Perry Street in recent months, so one would think that citing those leaving dog feces behind would be imperative. But the time and effort is better spent on citing someone feeding 2 cats.