Baytown’s Animal Advisory Committee is discussing plans to start a Community Cat Program with help from Best Friends Animal Society.
Best Friends is a non-profit animal welfare organization that helps shelters nationwide. This nonprofit has helped Baytown by working with volunteers to spay and neuter homeless cat around the city.
The recent meeting’s main focus was the Community Cat Program. They also proposed ordinances to increase animal fees for dangerous and abandoned dogs.
“The purpose of this meeting was to gather input and questions from the committee so that staff could begin the process of revising the ordinance to address a Community Cat program that will be brought to city council for consideration in the near future,” Tony Gray, Baytown Health Director, said.
Justin Gonzales of Best Friends suggested that Animal Control should work with Best Friends and Baytown Animal Control to create the cat program.
Best Friends is willing to fund the first six months of the program and train staff to help when they receive complaints about stray cats and identify program areas around town.
This organization pays for the vets to operate on the homeless cats and spay and neuter them.
The funding Best Friends is offering in addition to help from volunteers would offer an increase in local resources and decrease the overpopulation of cats.
Other operational changes were suggested for nuisance cats and defines what that term means.
Jamie Eustace, city librarian and community engagement director, presented more information about nuisance and community cat program.
“The term nuisance cats is new to the ordinance so we need the community’s input before we present it. I’d like your input on not only how this will affect the community but also the cats,” Eustace said.
Eustace divided the board members into three groups: animal control, community, and cat owners.
Through suggestions from these three groups the committee recommended solutions and questions to ask the council approving the ordinance change.
The committee suggested that local animal control and law enforcement can work together to decrease the cat population.
“We are putting together the Community Cat Program in order to help citizens who have herds of cats disturbing their residence. Now there is a solution to the problem instead of leaving food out,” Eustace said.
According to Toni Graham, Best Friends Animal Society head, the newest community cat ordinance was not on the agenda.
“These ordinances were not voted on by the council,” Graham said. “The Animal Advisory meeting Wednesday was a joke with discussion about what was the definition of a community cat when the definition was on the screen in front of them.”
Another suggestion by the committee was to increase the Dangerous Dog Hearing from 10 days to 30.
Another ordinance change that was suggested by the committee is that fees to register dangerous dogs should be changed from $50 to $100 annually.
A dangerous dog is one that makes an unprovoked attacked on someone outside of its enclosure where it’s being kept.
“We are suggesting an increase because of the amount of time and care that goes into boarding dogs,” Ellen Holloway, the committee’s chair, said.
The fees for poundage and boarding fees were also suggested to increase to $50 for placement in care and $25 for stray animal surrenders.
The final suggestion the committee made was to change fees for citizens who own fewer than 11 dogs to $100 and change the fees for citizens who own 11 to 19 dogs to $150.
The committee also suggested that for animal quarantine a $50 quarantine fee for pets and $10 per day for care and feed.
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