2012-11-17 / Editorials & Letters

Cats are protected by law

Editor:

A Kirkersville citizen (I’ll call her Ms. Kitty) was given a citation by Kirkersville Police Chief James Chapman, ordering her to pay a $150 fine or appear in mayor’s court August 8th because she was feeding about five stray cats. The citation said the violation occurred July 6. NONE of these cats belonged to Ms. Kitty, but her neighbor (I’ll call him Mr. Sourpuss) made it obvious in court that he just plain HATES cats! Period!

Chief Chapman had told Ms. Kitty that “people” told him they were going to start poisoning and shooting cats in Kirkersville and, I believe, that’s about the only thing he said that was believable. On a few occasions, Ms. Kitty brought me cats that had been emaciated, dehydrated, shot and, on one occasion, injured by what appeared to be a garden rake.

Rather than pay the fine in Kirkersville, Ms. Kitty had the case transferred to Licking County Municipal Court where she felt she would have a fairer chance. However, it didn’t look good for Ms. Kitty when the municipal judge complained about having to stay late for a “cat” case (although he did later apologize). I also felt the outcome was not going to be good when Mr. Sourpuss made it sound like there were 20 cats at Ms. Kitty’s house as soon as she went to work and Chief Chapman testified that he saw “plant damage” at Mr. Sourpuss’ house. Ms. Kitty lives in a nice house, with a nice yard. She is simply a nice person who couldn’t stand by and watch animals in trouble.

Mr. Sourpuss complained to the judge that Ms. Kitty was actually picking up one of the cats and “loving on it” and his gestures were as though he thought loving and petting a cat was atrocious! He was shown seven pictures of cats, all of which he claimed were in his yard, all of which were owned by other nearby neighbors....not Ms. Kitty!

Although the chief had already told me the names of the only three men (who are all buddies) that complained about ONLY Ms. Kitty feeding cats, he (chief) testified in court that there were several complaints and the people didn’t want him using their names.

Nearly two years ago, one cat was thrown out into the street by a neighbor of Ms. Kitty (also one of the three men who complained about her feeding cats). That cat had kittens and the kittens grew up and would have had kittens except Ms. Kitty trapped these cats and got them altered and rehomed some of them. The action of the neighbor throwing the cat out and neglecting it was reported to the police chief who apparently chose to ignore it.

The judge fined Ms. Kitty $25 plus court costs. In the end, Ms. Kitty paid about the same amount as Kirkersville would have charged her, BUT Kirkersville only got $25 from the county. Kirkersville probably spent HUNDREDS of dollars on fees for the Kirkersville Solicitor Brian Zets, one of his assistants and the police chief to appear in court for two days. (The hearing had been continued and everyone appeared on 2 separate days).

About four houses away from Ms. Kitty lives a council member who also feeds cats. In fact, that council member feeds many more cats than Ms. Kitty did and at least one of the cats in Ms. Kitty’s and Mr. Sourpuss’ yard belongs to that council member. Just a couple of blocks from Ms. Kitty are two more council members who also feed cats. At one point, even the mayor was feeding cats. I asked the mayor why he wasn’t cited into court and he said no one complained about the cats he was feeding.

It is not my intention to chastise the council members and mayor for feeding cats but rather to applaud them for doing so. But the council members and mayor CAN’T be doing something that a private citizen is ordered NOT to do!

Regardless of where a cat lives or to whom it belongs, the Ohio Revised Code says that cats are “companion animals” and are afforded protection under the humane laws of the State of Ohio and it says that you are not allowed to DEPRIVE them of “necessary sustenance!” Instead of worrying about WHO is feeding a cat, these municipalities AND OUR COUNTY should be worried about WHO is abusing and/or neglecting a cat!

Not many of us would want to live in a community where people can easily turn a blind eye to a starving animal or where the government DICTATES that you MUST turn a blind eye to a starving or neglected animal. In the past, I would have called these government officials GOB’s (Good Ole Boys). And, don’t get me wrong, any government official who creates a “do as I say not as I do” society, is certainly a candidate to be called a GOB. But I challenge the three council members in Kirkersville who feed stray cats to address this issue and do the right thing! Show the people that kindness to animals INCLUDING CATS is okay! Make it mandatory to spay and neuter cats. Enforce the abandonment and cruelty laws. When someone tells the police we’re going to start poisoning and shooting cats tell them, “YOU BETTER NOT!!!!”

“Of all the animals, man is the only one
that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts
pain for the pleasure of doing it.”
- Mark Twain

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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