Don't Come Here, Kitty, Kitty
After Chief Tells Council Transporting Cats to Shelter is Too Costly, Borough Police Will No Longer Be Responsible for Stray Felines
Dogs are in, but cats are out, at least according to new police protocol for dealing with stray pets found wandering the streets of Hellertown.
At Hellertown Borough Council's Dec. 6 meeting, police chief Robert Shupp told councilors an increase in the fees the Center for Animal Health & Welfare is charging Northampton County municipalities has become too costly for his department to bear.
"There was an increase in the Animal Health and Welfare contract this year to $100 per animal," Shupp explained.
The police department's entire annual budget for handling stray animals is a mere $3,200, and in light of incidents which have involved individuals dropping off "litters of cats" in the borough, "I just don't think it's a cost we can afford," Shupp said.
Nearby municipalities such as Freemansburg no longer accept strays at all, and Bethlehem Township only takes responsibility for stray dogs, he added.
"I would say that we (should) keep the contract that (says) only the animal control officer or a police officer can take the animal up, and that we take dogs only," Shupp recommended to council.
Councilman John Bate questioned the impact such a move might have on the borough's stray cat population.
"What do we do as the feral cat population grows and becomes a health hazard?" he asked.
Shupp responded to the question by highlighting the shelter's successful "trap, neuter and control" program for cats, and said that the borough hasn't been witness to an increasing feral cat population in recent months.
"We really don't get a lot of calls for cats lately," he said.
A little more than a year ago, during the third quarter of 2009, Shupp said his department took one dog and eleven cats to the Center for Animal Health & Welfare--formerly the Northampton County SPCA--in Williams Township.
He also explained that he did not foresee his department exhausting its annual budget of $3,200 if it would only be responsible for taking dogs to the shelter next year.
A motion to approve Shupp's recommendation to change the policy regarding the disposition of stray animals was approved unanimously.