For the second time in less than two years, the city of Clinton is gunning for feral cats.
At last week’s City Council meeting, Clinton resident Sherry Bright complained that she has seen 10 cats and five dogs running down the School Hill road where she lives.
She said the cats use flowerbeds as litter boxes and leave the area smelling of urine. Bright said she has collected 50 signatures on a petition calling for action.
"It is a problem and something needs to be done about it," Bright said. "It’s out of hand."
Van Buren County Animal Control director Pam Hopkins said she had trapped two cats that day. She said people are tampering with her traps and releasing the cats.
Councilman Johnny Moore said feral cats have been a problem for years and that the issue surfaces about once a year.
Mayor Roger Rorie said the city will purchase more traps and he will have a city employee help Hopkins for a few weeks in trapping the cats. Hopkins said a county employee has been assigned to help her as well. The traps cost about $40 for two, Hopkins said.
The plan Hopkins outlined is to hold the feral cats for three days in cages on loan from local veterinarian Ben Mays, then euthanize them. Hopkins said she can tell during that time if the cats are truly feral or if they are strays or lost pets.
The cost to euthanize is $4 to $5 per cat for the lethal injections. The bodies are stored in freezers at the shelter until a company in Greenbrier that provides the freezers picks up the bodies for $15 per 50 pounds.
Councilwoman Gayla Bradley asked Hopkins how often the company picks up the carcasses.
"I call them when the freezers are full," Hopkins said.
"I looked in the freezers. It’s time to call them," Bradley said.
Bradley and Councilwoman Wendy Russ make up the city’s animal control committee. Russ noted that the city has a licensing law and it needs to be enforced. Hopkins said she can write citations but a law enforcement officer must then sign off on them.
Hopkins offered some tips on dealing with feral cats. She advised residents to stop feeding them and to be careful about their trash items.
"Just because you feel sorry for them doesn’t mean you have to buy cat food," Hopkins said.