Some friends of felines have asked the York City Council to put the brakes on a proposal that would make it illegal to feed feral cats.
Armed with a stack of photographs, self-described "feral cat rescuer" Marcia Glatfelter said many of the city's street cats are not actually feral.
Many, she said, are former housecats abandoned by their human owners. Glatfelter said she's rescued cats — the type that used to be pets — from garages, alleys and Dumpsters.
At the council's meeting Tuesday, Glatfelter held up a photo of a cat she found living in a groundhog hole. The cat must have once had a home, she said.
"She is afraid of dogs and doorbells," said Glatfelter, who lives in Springettsbury Township.
The city should be finding ways to prosecute people who abandon their pets — not penalize the people who try to rescue them, Glatfelter said.
The council's proposal — triggered by the complaints of a resident who said feral cats are "wreaking havoc" on her neighborhood — specifically prohibits people from feeding, housing or otherwise assuming responsibility for wild animals, which includes feral cats.
The penalty for violating the proposed law is a fine between $100 and $1,000. Failure to pay the fine could result in jail time.
However, the proposal provides an exception for people who can prove they trapped a feral cat, had it spayed or neutered and then released it back into the wild.
Judy Fry, who lives on East Locust Street, said the cats in her neighborhood are friendly. While she understands the push to stop feeding them, "I also have a conscience," she said.
"These cats, they're like dogs. They're man's best friend," Fry said. "I don't think this is the solution — letting them starve to death."
Marie Rohleder said she's worried the proposed law would simply trigger feuds between neighbors.
Patricia Dwyer, a Glen Rock resident, said she's been rescuing stray cats for 40 years.
Dwyer said she spends her own money trapping cats and then taking them to be spayed or neutered. In the city, her efforts focus on neighborhoods where residents have requested help, she said.
"I'm not looking for cats to trap. I'm not looking for people to irritate," she said.
Kim Feldman, a Springettsbury Township resident, said she also takes cats to be spayed or neutered. They're also given a rabies vaccination before being released back into the wild, she said.
But to trap a cat, you first must feed it, she said.
"You can't get the animal in there without the food," Feldman said.
The council introduced the proposal at Tuesday's meeting. A vote is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 15.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.