2011-08-13 / Editorials & Letters

Village’s inaction frustrates volunteer trying to control cats

Editor:

As many readers know, I was appointed to a sub-committee (OVER A YEAR AGO) to come up with a way to help solve the cat problems in this village, MOST of which are the result of an over-population of cats in this village.

I feel that a year of my life has been wasted and I recently questioned if I was put on this committee just to shut me up! I didn’t think that was the case, at first. I originally thought that I was being taken seriously and was being respected for my knowledge, experience and training (as I was told when being put on a sub-committee). But, after all this time, I was mistaken as I am obviously getting the runaround by our public officials!

At the start, some of the members weren’t showing up for meetings; some thought the punishment to the owner (that I proposed in an ordinance) wasn’t stiff enough. (The ordinance won’t punish the animal but will cost the owner the amount of getting the animal altered.) I made it clear that I do not want the animals punished and I really don’t care who owns a cat that is out on the street. It needs to be altered!

Some of the public officials were claiming that our prosecutor and solicitor wrote a letter claiming that the ordinance couldn’t be enforced and, therefore, they were going to forget about it. I asked to see the letter. It was like pulling hen’s teeth! I was told that it wasn’t a public record and I couldn’t have it! Even though they were quoting from the letter, AND I WAS ON THE CAT COMMITTEE, some of the public officials didn’t want me to have it! And, just as I suspected, it was full of hooey!

Our prosecutor, Mark Gardner, and our solicitor, Richard “Butch” Bindley, claimed that they were concerned that the cost to the village would be high because of things such as “an indigent defendant could request and receive the appointment of defense counsel at Village expense.” This so-called “advice” (which was probably expensive) surprised me because we are talking about minor-misdemeanor fines in which there is no jail time and, therefore, you can’t get a court-appointed attorney! They claimed you can’t prove who owns a cat. They must not have researched the Licking County Courts because it most certainly is being done!

In the council meeting on July 11th, I asked that the village owned building, that the library currently is in, be leased to the newly formed Buckeye Lake Area Humane Society for the same $1 per year so that we could perform free and affordable spays and neuters. I came back to the council meeting two weeks later (July 25th) thinking they would have some kind of an answer about the lease of the building. They didn’t. It was then referred to the public service committee and the cost of the utility bills were questioned and thought to be very high. Directly after this meeting, I was told by the mayor that several others had asked for the building.

Thinking I would find answers about the lease of the building and utility bills, I went to the public service committee meeting on August 1st. No one had bothered to research the cost of the utilities. I was told that the library moving wasn’t official and maybe talking about the building was premature! To top it off, I asked who were the others who had asked for the building and this committee said they weren’t aware of anyone else wanting the building!

Council member Peterson gave contradictory information (about veterinarians and altering cats) from what she had said at a previous meeting. In addition, she now says, “Just don’t feed (the cats) and they will go away! That’s what I do!”

I believe Peterson’s answer is a cop out. She is certainly entitled to her opinion as a citizen but, as a council member, she is supposed to looking out for the community and being part of the SOLUTION not part of the problem.

I have brought trained professional personnel to the village council (at no cost to the village) and STILL hit a brick wall! The citizens...the taxpayers...those are the people getting cheated when professionals are willing to GIVE us their precious time and we turn them away!

I don’t want to live in a community without compassion for a hungry animal and I certainly don’t want the village to go back to trapping cats and hauling them to the pound. Not only will the pound not take them, hauling them away and killing them is NOT the answer! We have to stop making them!

I will still be working on finding lowcost (and free) spays and neuters for animals in this village. But THANKS to the village officials, this community will not see a spay-neuter clinic where the library once was because I am not going to continue to fight a losing battle with public officials! You can be assured that I will be watching to see who gets that building!

So I say this to some of our council members: There are politicians who walk the middle road...or ride the fence. While they may not offend anyone on either side, they also don’t take a stand for anything on either side and, therefore, are useless to the very people they represent!

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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