Killing will certainly stop those two from breeding, but it won't solve a larger problem of stray and feral cats.
Regardless, there's a better way to prevent unwanted breeding.
Those were the arguments presented by two 11-year-old girls—South Hills residents Tehla Dakota and Kialiegh Davis—and a host of accompanying adults at a Baldwin Township Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday night.
The girls' group—a coalition of local animal rights advocates and experts—came to the commissioners' meeting on Monday in response to , a township resident from Donaldson Drive, at a June 5 board meeting.
Balzer claimed to have killed two stray cats on his property by "kick(ing) two of them in my pool." He also said that if local officials do not take action on limiting the amount of loose cats in Baldwin Township, "We should be allowed to shoot 'em."
Commissioner John Paravati said that the township was never considering Balzer's alternative and that "We never intended to catch these cats to kill them."
Nevertheless, the girls' group offered to handle the township's loose cats issue free of charge through a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program sponsored by The Purple Ribbon Army, which is a collection of volunteers from groups such as Homeless Cat Management Team, Fund for Feral Cats, Animal Advocates, Hearts and Paws ministry, Frankie's Friends, Animal Care and Welfare, and Alley Cat Allies.
Speaking on behalf of the Purple Ribbon group, Lorie Martch—Tehla's mother—said that, with the commissioners' permission, her group would place feeding stations around the township to trap loose cats. The cats would then be neutered/spayed before being returned to the area where they were caught.
She suggested placing feeding stations on Donaldson and behind the on Sussex Avenue, for starters.
The stations would be camouflaged so as not to be an eyesore, Martch said, and eventually, after several trappings, the township's loose cat population will calm down, lessen in number and become controllable.
"Eventually, it's going to be a good, healthy population," said attorney Pam Amicarella, who resided on Norwich Avenue in Pittsburgh's nearby Brookline neighborhood for many years and said that she witnessed the cat problem firsthand.
Amicarella, who now lives in Jefferson Hills Borough, attended Monday's meeting as one of many people wearing a purple ribbon in support of the 11 year olds' plan.
Dr. Becky Morrow, another supporter and a veterinarian and biology professor at Duquesne University, said that she has seen TNR programs be successful in other areas.
Morrow said that the Purple Ribbon group hopes to discourage area residents from feeding loose cats, saying that that will only hinder the group's feeding stations and ultimate plans.
She also said that cat owners should be more responsible with their own pets since many of them are not neutered and will mate with other loose cats once they are outside of their homes.
She does not want housecats rounded up by her group along with feral ones, she said, if it can be helped.
"Education's part of this effort, too," Morrow said. "We want people to say, 'Hey, this is a good solution.'"
Eileen Frisoli, the Baldwin Township Board's president, said that she and her fellow commissioners will consult with township solicitor Tom McDermott and township Manager Mary McGinley to decide whether or not to accept the Purple Ribbon group's plan.
Martch, who said in an interview after the meeting, "They'd be crazy not to accept (her group's plan)," estimated that there are at least 60 cats living wild in Baldwin Township and leaving odors and droppings on residents' and businesses' property.
Tehla—the founder of Animals Against The Odds Rescue and Rehab in Brentwood Borough—and her group came to the commissioners' meeting early on Monday to organize in the township's municipal parking lot. They held up signs that called Balzer a "criminal" and said things like "If you are not part of a humane solution, you are the problem."
Said Tehla while reading from a letter addressed to the commissioners, "Not only is it illegal and should be severely punished, but killing a defenseless creature is morally, ethically, socially and spiritually wrong.
"Euthanasia is not a form of birth control."
Commissioner Bob Downey said that the commissioners "have absolutely no proof" that Balzer actually killed two cats.
"If it's true, it's despicable," Downey said. "(But) there's no way to prosecute him for what he said."
Martch said that her group might be attending other nearby municipalities' board meetings in the near future.
She said that a stray cats problem in , especially in the area—is even worse than Baldwin Township's.
Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch for updates on the stray cats issue as well as other topics.
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