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'Euthanasia Is Not a Form of Birth Control'

Eleven-year-old girls ask Baldwin Township Board to consider a trap-and-neuter program for area cats.

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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Anna B. June 26, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I love this idea that these young ladies have come up with. I do not condone the killing of the cats. When you think about it, the cats are not the problem ... the irresponsible people who allow these cats to roam around the neighborhoods to kill the songbirds, bunnies, etc. and when they are not spayed or neutered they do breed and then the problem is worse. I actually live in the neighborhood around Edgeridge/Haverhill and the loose cat population is terrible. There are at least 10 cats that are out all of the time in the frigid winter and dog days of summer. I feel bad for them as they are on their on for food. But it makes me very upset when I have to clean up after them in my yard and on my deck. I find cat fur as well as feces and the strong smell of urine just about every day. On a hot summer day the smell is overwhelming. We have families that have these cats and then let them loose for all of us to clean up after. And I would bet my last dollar that they do not have them spayed, neutered, vaccinated or have even seen a vet. We need to do something on this side of the township. But, if you return these cats to the homes where they supposedly belong, they will only let them loose again. So what can be done about this? But, great ideas from these girls. Good work.
Julie S. June 26, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I'm really proud of those girls for standing up for forgotten cats who cannot defend themselves. TNR is very effective; it helps keep the population down and makes the residents and cats much happier. I hope the community supports their efforts. So many kids these days are used to getting whatever they want handed to them, and it's nice to see kids being passionate about something they believe in and taking action to do what they think is right. It makes me feel better about the future.
Julie S. June 26, 2012 at 09:02 PM
In response to Anna B's question, I completely understand your frustration. From my own experience with TNR, and from helping feral and abandoned cats over the years, the spraying stops when the male cats are neutered and no longer mark their territory. Also, the lifespan of an outside cat (4-5 years, I think) is not as long as indoor-only cats (15-20+ years). The numbers decrease dramatically when no new cats are born. Education is key to keeping the problem in check in the future. There are so many free and low-cost spay/.neuter programs; people need to be informed of the need to have their pets fixed. I have neighbors who despise the ferals, and yet they let their 2 dogs and 3 cats run loose, and none of them are fixed. These 'owned pets' are the ones messing up my yard, not the strays. I actually worry their pets will bring pests and disease to the healthy feral colony! I also am afraid they will abandon their pets when they move, and it will become my problem. If the cats are bothering you, there are plants you can put in the yard that deter animals, and some sprays and other products such as Scat Cat! are also available. I hope things improve for you, and that your neighbors become more responsible.
AATO Army June 27, 2012 at 12:21 AM
https://www.facebook.com/AnimalsAgainstTheOdds If you are interested in supporting our work, please stop by our facebook page and "like" us. Or you can send a donation to: AATO, 511 Towne Square Way, Suiter #213, Pittsburgh, PA 15227 Thanks again for helping us, help as many Animals Against The Odds as we can!
cc June 27, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Anna if you go to Starbucks or any coffee place and ask them for their used grinds, they would be more than happy to give them to you as they won't have to pay to get rid of them in the garbage. What you do is spread them out over your dirt underneath trees, plants, around your vegetables in your garden. Cats don't like the smell of the coffee and they won't be doing their busiess in these places. Coffee grinds are actually good for your soil too, so your killing 2 birds with one stone. I go every week and pick up a black bag of used coffee grinds every week at Starbucks and do a section of my yard every week. Since I purchase a cup of coffee from them every day, they are more than happy to give me the used grinds. I pick up a bag on Friday morning on my way to work and Friday night is when I do my yard work depending if it rains or not. Just make sure if you get a black bag of coffee grinds you have some sort of container to put them in your truck as the bag might have a hole in it and you don't want coffee grinds all over the trunk of your car and the smell of coffee in there. Anna they don't want to be spaying people animals, they are going to do the ones that are feral, the ones that doesn't come near people as they are afraid of them. They also take the kittens if they are real young because they can be placed in peoples homes as indoor pets.
cc June 27, 2012 at 12:51 AM
10 Tips for Keeping Cats out of Yards & Gardens Here are some helpful suggestions for neighbors who wish to keep cats out of their yards and gardens. 1. Cat Stop® is an ultrasonic, battery-operated cat repellent with a motion detector. See the SafePetProducts web site to read more about this highly recommended product. 2. Push wooden chopsticks or 10-inch plant stakes into flowerbeds every eight inches to discourage digging and scratching. 3. Cats dislike citrus smells. Scatter orange and lemon peels or spray with citrus-scented spray. You can also scatter citrus-scented pet bedding such as Citrafresh. 4. Coffee grounds and pipe tobacco also work to repel cats. Some people have also suggested lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil and mustard oil. 5. Spray cat repellent (available at pet supply stores) around the edges of the yard, the top of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants. For information call your local animal supply store or PetsMart Corporate Office at 602-580-6100 or visit them on-line at www.petsmart.com.
cc June 27, 2012 at 01:00 AM
6. Cover exposed ground in flowerbeds with large attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging (they have the added benefit of deterring weeds). 7. Plant the herb “rue” to repel cats, or sprinkle the dried herb over the garden. 8. Use a motion-activated sprinkler. Any cat coming into the yard will be sprayed but unharmed and it is good for the lawn. If you are unable to find one, telephone Contech at 1-800-767-8568 to find out how to order one. 9. A garden repellent called Reppers, manufactured in Holland by Beaphar, is available at PetsMart, petsmart.com, pets.com, Foster & Smith or your local pet store. Reppers retails for around $19.95. 10. A non-chemical cat and wildlife repellent called CatScat is made of plastic mats that are pressed into the soil. Each mat, complete with flexible plastic spikes, is cut into four pieces. The spikes are harmless to cats and other animals, but are effective in discouraging excavation. They are sold in packages of 5 for aproximately $12.95 from Gardener’s Supply Company, at www.gardeners.com or 1-800-863-1700. I left a message up top about used coffee grinds and another trick is to fill a spray bottle up with ammonia and spray your plants. Cats think another cat is doing their business on the plants and will stay away. There are a lot of homemade remedies for getting rid of cats without hurting them.
cc June 27, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Thank you so much Tehla and Kialiegh, I wrote your address down and will send you money when I get paid. Right now I could get you cat food if you need it, but I don't get paid for another 2 weeks and this pay took care of my mortgage and all my utilities.
Robert Edward Healy, III June 27, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Jean, did you see this post by AATO Army?
Jean Smith June 27, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Robert-Jean, did you see this post by AATO Army? She posted right after I asked the question and did not go back and delete my thanks to them. I went and blew the dust off my checkbook and wrote the organization a check out and didn't think about going back and deleting my post. I will go and do it now. Sorry Robert.
Jean Smith June 27, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Julie I second that, people were questioning who these people were on the other Patch yesterday. I am so glad that this group of 11-12 year old are doing something to make this place better for animals and helping to control the feral cat population. Got your address and thank you so much for giving it to me right after I asked.
Robert Edward Healy, III June 27, 2012 at 03:28 AM
No need to apologize, Jean. :)
JM June 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Yay, just what we need more animal loving hippies.... If the cat is truly feral and not someone's pet, I think we have an open archery season in the borough for the feral cats. We can sell licenses for the hunt and use the proceeds to return the street lights.
Rick W. June 27, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I think the TNR program is a good idea, however how can you do this to a feral cat. Most of these are wild cats and can be viscous and carry disease, If people are concerned about the health and safety then these feral cats should be dealt with appropriately. As for the other cats, the owners should take responsibility. If it is found that the owners are letting their cats run about and they are not neutered they should be fined and forced to neuter their own cat. Come on people be a responsible pet owner!!!
Robert Edward Healy, III June 27, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Good for a laugh: http://patch.com/A-v8d0.
cc June 28, 2012 at 02:15 AM
JM you are no better than Randy and you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Yes open archery season on feral cats, but first we need target practice so I volunteer you to be the target so we learn not to miss. I hope your not married and never breed. These animals were dumped when they moved or didn't want anymore out on the streets all over, and it is a shame that it happen. People didn't take responsibility for their cats and it is a shame. These girls are awesome and people care about what is happening.
cc June 28, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Rick they are dealing with these animals appropriately, TRN (Trap, Neuter, Return), We are in the second year doing this on our street and the second week of July we are hoping to get 5-10 more cats done. This spring we took in 12 kittens, 1 didn't make it and they all went to good homes. After we had the animals fixed, got shots for them and we had them chipped for the owners. They should have a lease law every where, out of our 3 communities, Baldwin Borough is the only one that you have to license your cat.
JM June 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I am happily married and have a child thank you, and will be proud to raise him in a proud Western PA tradition of hunting. I would killl a feral cat, without remorse. Because it is feral and poses a threat to my family and the community. I actually am also a cat owner and do love animals, I have him fixed and keep him as a house cat, and do not let him roam free throughout the community. So, it's not like I do not love pets. There is a difference between a pet and a feral animal though, maybe you should look up the definition and learn the dangers of having ferals roam the streets.
cc June 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Jim - I know the difference between feral cats and cats that are pets and we are doing TRN in our neighborhood that we took it upon ourselves to do and we have most of the cats fixed. Hopefully by the end of the summer we will have all the cats spayed or neutered and won't have more kitten after this year unless more people dump their cats outside when they aren't wanted anymore. There is no need to kill them with a gun. There are ways to control the cat population. You are no better than Randy Balzer and would love to report you also to the humane society and animal friends so that you never get another animal.
cc June 28, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Rick as long as people don't feed the cats, then they will go into traps and get food and then we can take them in to get fixed. It takes a community to work together to get them under control and that is what we are doing in our neighborhood.
JustMe July 01, 2012 at 09:00 AM
Anna they won't fix these cats as they belong to someone. Your going to have to get in touch with the ASPCA about the owners of these cats. It would be great if you have pictures to prove that these cats are without food, water, shelter, left outside in bitter cold weather and in the extreme heat like it has been the last few days. Cats if they are not fixed mark their territories to let other cats know if they are male, female and that is why you get the horrible smell. You can also call the Police about the situation. I know the Baldwin Township Police Officers will go talk to the pet owners and if you have proof that they are being mistreated they will file a complaint against them with the magistrate. But I see this over in our neighborhood too that people leave their cats run loose, don't feed them and let them run wild. My neighbors cat is always doing their business in my yard, under my bushes and I return their feces to them that they leave on my porch and under my plants to them. We are lucky though that they have their 5 cats spaded and doesn't get that awful odor from them. Same with dogs, when the owners let them do their business in my yard and don't clean up after them. I shovel it up and knock on their doors and dump it on their porch and tell them that they left something in my yard that I really don't want.
Sue Miller July 01, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Anna must be one of my neighbors. Where I live there is a family who has at last count 8 cats. They just keep bringing them home. That's their business, I know. I could care less if they have 50, as long as they would keep them in their own home and not running loose. They are always out. I hear them at night when they fight or mate in the woods or under a tree or wherever. I smell their remnants when they poop on my patio, furniture, under my bushes/trees, flowers, etc. They have scratched up my table with a glass top on my patio because they get on top of it and stretch and scratch the glass. They have killed off a lot of songbirds that I enjoy hearing. They leave dead birds/baby bunnies in my yard. They leave coughed up hairballs on my furniture. Oh I could go on. Baldwin police have more important issues to deal with than coming to my house or any of my other neighbors who are disgusted by this. And this family is the type that no one wants to really make mad, if you can understand from where I am coming. Just about everyone is friendly with them (except one family that dared stand up to them) but no one will cross them. I have taken the advice of one of the bloggers on here and gotten the coffee grounds and will save my own. I am going to spread them and see what happens. I am also calling ASPCA to come to set humane traps, catch them and remove them. But I suspect when one cat goes, one or two more will replace it.
cc July 02, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Sue, I know in Baldwin Borough there is a limit on the number of animals that you can have and they do have to have both cats and dogs licensed. Baldwin Township and Whitehall does not have that. I am the one that wrote about the coffee grounds and get them from Starbucks by the black bag worth. They are free and work just put it on think underneath your bushes, flowers, garden or where they are going. I learned that trick a long time ago. Sprinkling hot pepper seeds on your furniture will keep them off them, because it burns their paws (not like 1st 2nd 3rd degee burns), but a burn feeling to them and they quit jumping on the furniture. These are cheap fixes for keeping them from ruining your furniture. We talked to Whitehall police about one family that had 30 cats and they also had the ASPCA come out to one of our neighbors homes that had a ton of cats. Report them also to the humane society and animal friends. You can also get in touch with AATO Army and talk to them. They seem like an awesome bunch of young adults that want to help others when there isn't anywhere to turn too.

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