ALAMOSA — To the applause of the audience, the Alamosa city council on April 19 approved an animal ordinance amendment that included provisions for feral cats.
The amendment was the result of city staff and community efforts to formulate something that would address nuisance concerns while providing for humane treatment of feral cats, Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks explained.
The amendment provides for registration and monitoring of feral cat colonies as well as a city-supported TNR (trap, neuter, release) program.
The city council held two public hearings on the ordinance amendment, with the second hearing held before final ordinance approval during the April 19 city council meeting.
Michelle Wayland, president of CatsAlive!, thanked everyone who worked on the ordinance and the council for approving it. She commended the city for not trying to eradicate feral cat populations, since that would just create a vacuum that would be filled, but instead working with animal groups on maintaining feral colonies, spaying and neutering them and ear-tipping those that have been fixed.
“It’s wonderful that the city is willing to provide resources towards that end,” she said.
Wayland added that whether some folks like it or not, feral cats are a community responsibility, not just CatsAlive!, the city or “the crazy cat lady next door.” It takes cooperation from animal welfare groups and the local government, she said.
“We must do this, and we must do it together,” she said.
Kris Steinberg agreed. She said research has shown that TNR does reduce the size of feral cat colonies over time. It will also reduce obnoxious behavior, she said. She said if the TNR and other efforts do not eliminate nuisance areas, the animal groups are willing to help the city relocate colonies if necessary.
Gene Gonzales was the only audience member speaking against the cat ordinance. He said the city should wait until it had researched or looked into this further. He said he owns property across from a feral colony and felt the colony was a nuisance.
“I am not against taking care of cats, but it needs to be controlled,” he said.
Jennifer Stoughton presented 102 names of people who supported the revised animal ordinance amendment and said she fully supported it as well.
“I firmly believe that the draft you have before you is well thought out,” she said.
Stoughton said TNR was important and a humane method of controlling the feral cat population. She added that she believed the ordinance protected both property owners and the animals and placed humane and properly administered euthanasia as a last resort.
“It is clear the staff of Alamosa takes this very seriously,” she said.
Sheryl Abeyta shared comments from Margaret Doell who was not able to be present for the public hearing. Doell thanked the city for revising the ordinance to make it more inclusive and humane. She commended the city for promoting TNR, which is supported by the ASPCA as a humane and effective method for population control. Disneyland has been employing this technique for many years, she added.
Sabrina Husmann, representing the Valley Humane League, also supported the ordinance. She said the league hoped to build a larger facility in the future that could accommodate cats.
Councilman Jan Vigil said he believed the ordinance would work and said he had received phone calls from people who appreciated the staff working with the community on this issue.
“I think everybody in this room is on the same team,” he said.
“That’s the way government should work,” added Councilor Charles Griego. “The people should have the input.”
Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley said she was proud to be part of a city that showed such collaboration and was willing to take the steps it did to get to this point.
“I am looking forward to all the support going forward,” she said.