Feral cat controversy sparks change in Brooklyn, Parma Heights

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BROOKLYN, Ohio (WJW) — Brooklyn and Parma Heights Animal Control said it will temporarily suspend plans previously announced online to trap and euthanize feral cats after outrage among some residents and people on social media.

A deleted Facebook post said residents could request and rent feral cat traps on their property in early May.

It stated, “Ear tipped (altered) cats that are trapped, we attempt to relocate. They are humanely euthanized if we cannot locate a safe place to take them.”

The post was met with swift concern by animal advocates who believe cats that are owned but let outside could be trapped and put down.

“I was mortified. It’s like open season on any cat that’s outside,” said Debra Bartowick, of Forever Friends Foundation, a no-kill animal rescue.

“Why would they post as a reminder to the public which is how it was stated in the beginning? If they’re posting it as a reminder, this is not the first time they’ve done it.”

Alley Cat Allies, an international cat advocacy organization focused on changing laws and policies to better protect cats said there are better ways to handle feral cats that do not include killing cats.

“It’s not only cruel but it does not work because new cats move in and start the reproduction cycle again,” said Becky Robinson, President of Alley Cat Allies. “What we are advocating for instead of trying to bail the ocean out with a thimble is what we often say, get to the heart of the matter with neutering.”

By mid-day Thursday an updated Facebook post announced Brooklyn and Parma Heights Animal Control will suspend plans temporarily due to the concerns expressed from their original post.

“We have never scheduled or initiated a mass trapping and euthanizing of cats in any way,” it stated.

The post said in four years they have received nearly 250 feline related complaints and euthanized 25 cats.

“We ask any agency that is getting calls about cats that doesn’t know what to do to call us, ask for help because we have implemented formal programs in many different communities across the country,” said Robinson.

Bartowick believes solutions need to be explored to satisfy both cat advocates and the city trying to curb feral cat complaints.

“Implementing TNR, that is trap, neuter, return. You catch the cat, you vet the cat, you fix the cat and you release it,” she said.

Brooklyn and Parma Heights Animal Control said it recognized the value in trap, neuter, return efforts but it does not satisfy the complaints received.

“Requested trapping of feral cats has been temporarily suspended,” said Brooklyn Chief of Police Scott Mielke. “We are willing to listen to our community for other reasonable and prudent solutions to the problem. Our Animal Control Officer will reach out and work with local cat rescues to determine the best path forward.”

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