Saturday, May 03, 2014

City Council: Reclaimed Water Study + Animal Services Board Nominee


San Angelo's City Council will consider a proposal under agenda item #15::

Consideration of awarding RFQ: WU-14-13 to Alan Plummer Associates, Inc. to evaluate reclaimed water alternatives including non-potable and potable reuse alternatives in the amount not to exceed $189,965.00--Presentation by Water Utilities Director Ricky Dickson

Later in the meeting Council will take up board appointments, including a member of the Animal Services Board.  It shows Linda Marcelli as up for her first full term.  Consider her record on the Animal Services board from August 18, 2011.

Dr. Russell – it’s obvious we have a problem around town with feral cats so here’s where we discuss how to deal with them. Any ideas? 
Faye – what about TV time? Or we could offer cages to trap them for the shelter
Julie – we get calls all the time about this issue and we advise where to by the traps. We have a few on hand and would love to supply them but people have abused the privilege before so we no longer can. Harbor Freights, I believe, is the cheapest. 

Faye – this is a real problem in San Angelo. We need to get the message out to the general public. Sometimes people don’t think about how they can help with the problem 
Julie – there are organic remedies on how to get rid of them like cayane pepper or mothballs and not feeding your animals outside. 
Linda – the city seems like it wants to throw the problem onto the citizens but the city needs a program in place to deal with this 
Susan – the goal is to decrease the population 
Julie – we do already pick up all trapped feral cats 
Linda – this is not against you, but the city needs to take responsibility for this. Right now it’s on the home owners and citizens and the city needs to step up. Spay and neuter or kill the cats. All of your suggestions throw all responsibility back on the public 
Julie – I am sure the city would want to help in any way they can but there’s money involved 
Susan – I don’t really feel like there’s enough awareness out there and that brings me back to TV/radio advertisements. I think more people would be more responsible if they were more aware 
Linda – I know some people will feed these cats and like having them around, but they see them as semi-pets and they’re not taking responsibility for them
Julie – yes we have certain ‘problem’ houses that we will go to and talk to owners about. We do try to go out and educate 

Tom – I have a comment about killing cats. That may be a great idea to get rid of feral cats but the problem is that that could also affect owned cats 
Linda – yes but owned cats are not supposed to be outside as far as city ordinance is concerned but it’s not enforced. 
Dr. Russell – does anyone know if any other cities have policies in place
Linda – I’ll ask Abilene 
Dr. Russell – it seems like the problem is bigger here but I’m sure it’s not a problem that’s unique to us. I disagree with poisoning and would much prefer trapping because you never know what you might kill with poison and it’s more humane 
Linda – but by having a lot more trapping, the shelter would have a lot more cats to handle. How many are adoptable? 
Julie – we hold them for the stray hold if they’re not sick but we judge what is adoptable by their temperament 
Faye – do you let people know that some of these cats are feral? 
Julie – we have a wild cat room where we place the feral cats so while we have some people who have reclaimed their wild cat we don’t adopt out cats that have the potential to hurt someone 
Faye – has anyone wanted to specifically adopt out a feral cat?
Julie – no, we can’t adopt them out 

Linda – can the shelter handle the larger influx of cats if we had some kind of trapping program? 
Julie – we would have to. We do what we can 
Dr. Russell – ok we can check more into that later and possibly come up with a proposal
Fast forward to February 13, 2013 when Health Services Director Sandra Villareal stated in a Animal Services Board meeting that she'd done research on other cities' feral cat ordinances. 

Sandra – I put this issue on the agenda to find out what y’all want to do. I did some research about other cities’ feral cat ordinance. Dallas has a TNR program and those colonies are managed by 2 rescue organizations. Denton’s colonies are registered and managed by the city. Ft. Worth, in my opinion, has a really good program. The animal groups have to comply with the ordinances and the city approves sponsors (rescues) to manage these programs. Caregivers who fall under sponsors have responsibilities and it’s all laid out on paper in defined rules. Lubbock and Alamo Heights have the city run their whole program which I think is too much. So see what y’all want to do about this. Do you want to pursue it or leave as is?
Linda – I see no reason to pass an ordinance because we don’t enforce what have now. And there are no groups stepping up to fix the issue because they can’t afford to
Julie – yes we do manage cats, we just can’t chase them around with a snare pole. We will pick up cats in traps or injured cats and we have traps to loan out
Linda – why does the city insist people by their own trap? It’s ridiculous. The city should purchase these traps 

Julie – we had them at one time and they were damaged by people, the resources were depleted and some people would just rather buy their own. We don’t have the resources to handle everyone 
Linda – I’m tired of fighting about this. No one cares; no one wants to take responsibility. We should just take it off the agenda 
Wendy – we try but we have a hard time with not enough staff 
Linda – I understand 
Tom – the city should require a deposit for the trap that way when it’s returned without damage, they can get the deposit back 
Julie – that’s a good idea and we had that at my other job, but San Angelo people don’t have the money for that. We go out and chain the trap and log it and talk to people about feeding feral cats. We have a handle on it 
Faye – is there a length of time that they have the traps? 
Julie – it depends but usually 7-10 days
Why is this appointment important?  Because the city needs partners to manage and reduce San Angelo's burgeoning cat population.  Linda Marcelli has proven for three years she is not a partner.  City Council could do better with someone from a local rescue organization, one that helps save dogs and cats.

As for Marcelli's 2013 statement that there are no groups stepping up to deal with the feral cat issue, she's flat out wrong.  Angelo State University's Cat Coalition, in existence since February 2012, has spayed/neutered over 100 feral cats.  Critter Shack conducted a number of cat spay/neuter clinics.  They fixed over 1,000 cats since last November. 

If local citizens don't want to help with the problem that's fine.  Just don't get in the way of those doing the work.  This applies to  Linda Marcelli, about to be reappointed to the Animal Services Board, and her sponsor, Health Services Director Sandra Villareal.  I believe the City can do better.  To get good candidates the city must first be a good partner.  That is yet to happen in the animal services arena.

P.S. -- There are no Animal Services Board minutes to peruse on the City's new website.  There are three agendas for 2014 but no minutes.

Update 5-19-14:  May 20 City Council has Linda Marcelli back on the agenda for nomination to the Animal Services Board.  E-mails to Councilman Silvas for clarification on this development have not yet received a response.

1 comment:

Simon Bandura said...

The Bitch is Back: God Help the Animals of San Angelo

Linda Marcelli acquired a seat on the San Angelo Animal Services Board in 2011 to ensure her investment as a dog breeder while an ordinance to limit the number of dogs was discussed and implemented. Subsequently, she remained on the board and the minutes will show frequent statements proposing cats be poisoned and a bounty be placed on them as a solution to curtail the over population of cats and feral cats in our neighborhoods.

Her proposals show complete ignorance of animal cruelty laws and city ordinances. Poisoning and killing cats is inhumane, illegal, and unethical. In addition, there are decades of research that demonstrate poisoning, trapping and killing are ineffective methods to control and reduce cats populations.

Linda has been presented time and again with facts and evidence that trap-neuter-return (TNR) is the only proven non-lethal, effective method to stabilize and reduce feral cat populations. But her brain is impermeable to the truth and to what works or maybe she just doesn’t care. She is determined to be a barrier to the solution and to those individuals and rescue organizations who work tirelessly to implement Trap-Neuter-Return. She even persuaded her best friend, Sara Bennett, into getting on the board just to oppose a TNR ordinance. When Sara was asked by a member of a local rescue why she opposed TNR, she simply, “because it won’t work.”

Another example of Linda’s ignorance of city ordinances (found in the minutes) is her insistence the shelter begin to crack down on people feeding cats. It is not against to the law to feed. In fact, it is considered animal cruelty to withdraw food and water from an animal. It is likely her insistence was the impetus for the shelter’s aggressive (after hours) tactics tracking down people who fed cats and citing them with a warning to stop feeding - claiming they were violating the nuisance ordinance. This is an example of San Angelo taxpayer dollars hard at work.

Linda also has an exaggerated fear of contracting Toxoplasmosis. The CDC reports the majority of Toxoplasmosis cases are caused from eating raw meat, pork in particular. Children who play with or eat cat feces are at higher risk for contracting Toxoplasmosis. In this instance, Toxoplasmosis is a hygiene issue. Linda just needs to be advised to remember to wash her hands.

Finally, it is interesting (and sad) to note half a dozen cases of poisoning cats have been reported in her neighborhood – actually on the block where she lives. Her insistence that cats should be poisoned could lead one to wonder if she is putting out the poison. If not, what is she going to do as an animal services board member to put an end to this barbaric, illegal behavior in her district?

Linda makes money on the backs of animals and does not care about the welfare of animals in San Angelo. She is an obstacle to making a difference in the lives of animals in our town. The only interest she serves is her own.

If Sandra Villarreal and Julie Vrana really care about the welfare of animals and want to make a difference in the lives of animals in San Angelo, they need to begin to collaborate with local rescues and the public, and keep people like Linda Marcelli at bay.