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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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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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