Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cats Taking over Parts of Eastern Ontario City; Officials Call It a Crisis

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cats Taking over Parts of Eastern Ontario City; Officials Call It a Crisis

Article excerpt

Cats taking over parts of Cornwall

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An eastern Ontario city is trying to reclaim a neighbourhood it says has been taken over by hordes of feral cats that disturb residents and leave the area covered in animal waste.

Those who live on Bergin Avenue in Cornwall, Ont., estimate there are upwards of 50 cats calling the street home, with new litters born every week. They say the street is consistently riddled with cat feces and urine as well as newborn kittens and numerous cat fights.

Local officials are considering a bylaw to address what they have deemed a cat crisis, while the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has cleared out four of its shelters in an effort to help.

Stray cats are an issue in many parts of the city, but Bergin Avenue appears to be the epicentre of the crisis.

"It's like having a bunch of druggies on your streets," said Dennis Poisson Sr., who lives in the afflicted area. "All we want to do is clean up the neighbourhood."

Some lay part of the blame with a household they believe is feeding the strays, though they admit the problem is much larger.

A few dozen residents, including Poisson, are pushing for the city to take action and have filed a petition that was tabled at a council meeting last week. As a result, bylaw officials are preparing a report on the situation.

Denis Carr, the councillor who represents the area, said a gap in the city's regulations may be contributing to the problem.

"There's no governing bylaw to control cats -- we have one for dogs, but not for cats," he said.

"This street is a real mess," said Carr, adding that residents have been asking for help for about a year.

The OSPCA also pointed to the lack of a cat bylaw -- which could include a license or tag system, limits on number of cats in a home, and a spay and neuter program -- as a complicating factor.

"When you see a municipality that doesn't have a bylaw for a specific domestic pet, it can get a bit chaotic as it is here in this crisis because there is no one entity that should have to take responsibility," said Tanya Firmage, the organization's chief of humane programs and community outreach. …

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