News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 10, 2009

Council passes animal ordinance

Votes7-1 to set policy for 'cat colonies'

TERRE HAUTE — The Terre Haute City Council voted 7-1 Thursday night to pass a revised animal control ordinance that sets standards for handling “cat colonies” in the city.

According to the amended ordinance, it is now against the law to provide food, water or shelter to a colony of “free-roaming cats” unless the colony is “managed” and registered with the proper city officials. It is also unlawful to feed, provide water or shelter to free-roaming cats except as part of a “trap, neuter and return” program.

Trap, neuter and return refers to catching a stray cat, having it “sterilized” at a veterinarian’s office and then returned to its colony.

Councilman Rich Dunkin, D-1st, was the lone vote against the revised ordinance. Councilman Norm Loudermilk, D-3rd was absent from the meeting. All other councilmen voted in favor of the revisions.

“The overall goal is to reduce the feral cat population in the city of Terre Haute,” said councilman Neil Garrison, who worked closely with local animal groups in drafting the revisions to the ordinance. “I think this new ordinance does that.”

At the conclusion of Thursday night’s regular meeting, the council voted without opposition to spend $1,500 in surplus funds from the council’s budget on public service announcements designed to inform people about how the cat colony program will work and informing pet owners of the requirement that all pet dogs and cats in Terre Haute have licenses. A spayed or neutered cat or dog license costs $5, according to the ordinance. An “unaltered” cat or dog license will now cost $100, up from $25 under the previous version of the city ordinance.

Other changes in the animal control ordinance require placing a microchip in dogs or cats that are lost without identification at a fee of $35. The ordinance also now contains language allowing pet shelters to keep dogs or cats that are victims of severe neglect or abuse in medical or boarding facilities at the owner’s expense.

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