Compromise in Carbondale cat control controversy
A committee of residents has reached a compromise in the ongoing debate over cat control in Carbondale.
The issue was initially raised by the Roaring Fork Audubon Society, which advocated an ordinance modeled on one in Aurora, which prohibits cats from running at large, prohibits excessive numbers in a single household and requires licensing as well as spay and neutering. Facing pushback from cat owners, including longtime Street Cat Coalition volunteer Cindy Sadlowski, the trustees opted to form a committee with representation from both sides.
“The first meeting was fairly contentious with everyone lining out their positions, the second meeting we actually started having constructive dialogue, the third meeting we were able to reach a compromise,” said Trustee Frosty Merriott, who sat on the committee.
Pending approval from the Board of Trustees, the committee would build on the existing nuisance cat ordinance instead of starting from scratch. The plan would include a rabies vaccine requirement and wording to strongly encourage spaying and neutering as well as licensing. The fines for owners of nuisance cats — defined as diseased, aggressive, or causing problems while wandering at large — would also be modified to allow a warning for an initial offense and potentially a summons for repeat offenders. Enforcement would be primarily complaint-driven.
Before anything takes effect, the committee suggests a one-year grace period with an awareness project to encourage responsible pet ownership. The goal, Merriott emphasized, is to help preserve the more than 200 bird species that migrate through the area, of which 19 are threatened or endangered.
“This is going to be an ongoing process,” he said. “There will be some bumps, but I think this is a good result.”
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