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Plum council not likely to pass feral cat ordinance this month

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, 3:48 p.m.
Steffi Bruninghaus of Squirrel Hill, a volunteer with the Animal Rescue League, releases a feral cat that previously was trapped and spayed on Mt. Washington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Steffi Bruninghaus of Squirrel Hill, a volunteer with the Animal Rescue League, releases a feral cat that previously was trapped and spayed on Mt. Washington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Around 30 people came to a Plum Borough council workshop meeting Nov. 5 to air concerns about a proposed ordinance aimed at discouraging people from befriending feral cats.

The ordinance, prompted by resident complaints to Mayor Harry Schlegel about feral cats in the borough, is still in the draft phase and not expected to be voted on at least through this month. Last month, borough officials said it could require people who regularly feed feral cats to become responsible for their care. Violators would be subject to a fine.

Many who showed up to the meeting said such an ordinance would be unfair.

“If you try to say to someone, ‘I’m going to fine you because you’re feeding a cat,’ well 10 other people on that street might be feeding the same cat. Who are you going to fine?” said Karen Mazak, a Plum resident.

Several of the people addressing council were not Plum residents and were dissuaded to speak.

“Without a resident speaking, we’re not going to sit here and listen to other people talk — that’s the rules that we’ve always abided by,” said Solicitor Bruce Dice.

Disregarding the rule, Stephanie Bruninghaus, of Squirrel Hill, said she hopes the ordinance does not lead to “trapping and killing” feral cats. She volunteers with Pittsburgh’s Humane Animal Rescue.

Bruninghaus instead advocated for a trap-neuter-return method of controlling the cat population. She also said the ordinance should provide a way for cats to be vaccinated.

“If you have a good ordinance that works, you don’t have to deal with these crazy cat ladies all the time,” she said to laughs from the audience and council.

Schlegel has said he hopes the ordinance includes provisions establishing cat ownership by a resident who feeds a feline three to five times per week. He said a person who does so would be held responsible for the cat’s care and any damage it might cause to property thereafter.

Councilman David Odom said the ordinance is not finalized.

“These are some of the concerns that I think we have, and we want to make sure we put a responsible ordinance in place that addresses the safety to the community and also addresses the concerns of the residents,” Odom said.

Schlegel said he welcomes the opportunity to meet with anyone willing to give input on the ordinance.

It is unclear when an ordinance would be presented and voted on.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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