Zoning Ordinances Will Be Enforced, Douglas Officials Warn Feral Cat Caretakers At Douglas Estates
The City of Douglas is leaning on its zoning ordinance to address the controversial feral cat issue at the Douglas Estates and is giving advocates and affected property owners a 30-day notice to get rid of two colonies, consisting of some 20 cats, officials announced Monday night.
The city’s position was encapsulated by Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere’s statement: “If you are feeding ‘em (feral cats), you are responsible for ‘em.”
Officials sought legal counsel in composing notices of violation addressed to various individuals: (A Feral Haven President Colleen Bauer, Douglas Estates’ Nathan Leader, Pearson Properties, and Douglas Estates Property Manager Donald Veenhoven) that cites several zoning ordinances and their related enforcement rules and penatlies.
The feral cats have many advocates in the Douglas Estates manufactured housing community, including volunteers with the non-profit A Feral Haven which since 2015 have acted as caregivers, including neutering, vaccinating, feeding and sheltering the cats.
“It (removing cats) absolutely isn’t a solution. If you do so, more cats will come in. It’s called a ‘vacuum effect.’ You haven’t solved the problem, you just (delayed) it,” Deb Westerhof of A Feral Haven told The Local Observer Newspapers back in June.
Feral cat experts have indicated that cats are territorial and lone cats will keep away from already formed colonies, especially those colonies that are neutered because neutered cats don’t go into heat so they don’t attract outside cats.
It is a notion that has been often repeated by advocates throughout the heated discussion about the issue.
However, other residents at Douglas Estates say that are fed up with the smell, the cat droppings, the random killing of wildlife, and the invasion of cats on their properties (i.e., cats living under mobile home skirting).
They asked city council for help; they wanted the cats removed, or at the very least, not have people feed them.
The complaints by a few residents may well have been exaggerated, Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood conceded during Monday’s meeting.
Greenwood said she had visited the area where caretakers are housing the feral cats—behind a dumpster—and did not witness problems to the gravity that some residents were giving it, such as cat droppings.
“I think there was some exaggeration going on, but we are going to enforce our ordinance,” she said.
“We are going to work for a smooth transition (for the feral cat removal) with the people.”
Among the ordinances the city cites in its violation notices, includes those related to kennels, which may be maintained in the city only under a special use permit; the illegal keeping of wild animals; and regulation limiting the number of cats each household can own.