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?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.
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
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.
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
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.