Local animal advocates want to clarify some apparent misperceptions regarding newly passed changes in the city’s animal control ordinance.

It is not illegal to feed a tame cat that wanders onto your property, said Vicki Curts, a member of the Terre Haute Animal Control Commission. However, the new ordinance specifies that a tame cat becomes the property of the person feeding it after five business days of care, she said.

If you do not wish to become the owner of a tame cat for which you are caring, contact Terre Haute Animal Control at (812) 244-2258 within five business days and arrange to have the cat picked up, Curts said.

Feral cats, which are unsocialized cats, are handled in a different way.

According to the new ordinance, it is not lawful to feed a feral cat without a cat colony permit. Permits can be obtained free of charge through the Terre Haute Board of Public Works, but only after certain requirements have been met, Curts said. Most importantly, feral cats can be lawfully cared for only after they have been neutered, she said.

Several agencies in the area, including Spay-Neuter and Pets Alive, the HOPE program, League for Animal Welfare, the Terre Haute Humane Society, can help with neutering, Curts noted.

Rather than kill feral cats, the city is attempting to implement a “trap, neuter and return” policy for handling non-neutered feral cats. Under this policy, feral cats are trapped, taken to a veterinarian for neutering, then returned to the care of the licensed caregiver. The goal is to eventually eliminate feral cat colonies in Terre Haute, Curts said.

Meanwhile, the newly revised animal control ordinance passed last week by the City Council also establishes a $500 reward for anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone organizing pit bull fights. The ordinance also requires all dogs and cats in the city be licensed. Neutered pet licenses are $5 while unaltered pet licenses now cost $100.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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