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Regulating animal disturbances under consideration in Whitehall

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The neighbor's dog barks incessantly for hours.

A resident puts out food and suddenly more than a dozen feral cats are coming by daily to feed.

Another resident is rumored to house more than 50 cats, and neighbors complain of the odor that emanates from the structure.

Whitehall officials are working to end nuisances caused by domestic and wild animals in the community. A proposed ordinance that would regulate noise, odor and feeding of animals was put up for public inspection last week.

Council members still must give the ordinance final approval before it becomes law.

“It's just making sure that pets aren't causing undo disturbance,” borough Manager James Leventry said.

The ordinance would replace a law passed more than 20 years ago that made it illegal for Whitehall residents to house horses, cows, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, fowl or bees. That all will remain.

Many new restrictions, though, are being examined, Leventry said.

Officials are hoping the ordinance addresses problems with feral cats, Leventry said.

Once a resident starts feeding the cats, the animals begin to gather.

“Then 15 to 20 cats start congregating in one area,” Leventry said.

This is a problem in many municipalities, he said.

The proposed ordinance prohibits residents from creating “conditions that are attractive to” animals, such as deer, bears, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, turkeys and stray or feral animals.

Residents would not be allowed to feed, bait or provide food for these animals and must take action to avoid contact, such as securing or removing outdoor trash, grills, pet food and bird feeders.

Whitehall officials also hope the ordinance will help them address an issue they have been working to resolve, where a resident is rumored to have as many as 50 cats, Leventry said.

In February, Whitehall Councilman Phil Lahr asked officials to look into a way to address the issue after officials received complaints from neighbors about an odor that kept them from sitting on their porches.

Any domestic animal barking, screeching or howling for more then 30 minutes straight will be declared a nuisance, according to the proposed ordinance.

The ordinance is available for review at www.whitehallboro.org.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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