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Councilors Consider Limiting Number Of Felines

OSWEGO, NY – Concerns for public safety and the safety of the animals have prompted some councilors to consider placing a limit on the number of cats per household.

Councilor Sue Sweet (R-Third Ward) said she and Councilor Connie Cosemento (D-First Ward) have “some issues with households containing a numerous number of cats, and we’ve had some issues with dogs, too.”

There are some homes in Oswego where the cats are all over - including the kitchen sink.
There are some homes in Oswego where the cats are all over - including the kitchen sink.

There isn’t anything in the city’s code that addresses numbers (of cats), she pointed out at Monday’s committee meetings.

“Many municipalities now are calling for limitation of cats and dogs in coordination with animal rights groups and promoting spaying and neutering,” Sweet said.

There are some households (“animal hoarders”), including some in Oswego, that have many cats that aren’t spayed or neutered. They continue to reproduce unchecked, she added.

“We need to take a look at this as a community as a whole, keeping in mind we want to take care of our animals and also want to protect neighborhoods,” she said.

As an example, Sweet pointed to one place that had so many cats, the stench permeated into a neighboring business.

Cosemento said she’d like to have a meeting with members of the public to get their input on the situation.

The city also needs to address the dangerous dog issue, she added.

“Before it goes to a public hearing, there has to be an amendment,” Gay Williams, city attorney, pointed out. “The council first has to propose how they want to deal with this and then have a public hearing regarding that.”

“We’re not trying to stop people who are taking care of their animals,” Sweet explained. “It’s just making sure that we’re not being over-run because it is getting out of control. It’s just something we feel we need to look at.”

Pat Kelly, Oswego’s housing inspector, said there are a couple people she suspects are “animal hoarders.”

Earlier this month she went to one residence, on a complaint from a neighbor regarding a strong cat urine odor.

She was invited into the home by the resident, she said.

“When we went in there, I lost count as to how many cats there was,” she told the committee. There was a mother cat on the kitchen floor nursing some babies,” she said. “There weren’t really any sick cats that I saw; the smell was horrendous. Thank God it was a cool day; I don’t know how they deal with it in the humidity.”

She told the tenant she wasn’t there to regulate the number of cats. However, she informed him that he had to clean up the place and if it isn’t done in the allotted time, she would condemn it.

If that happens, he will be forced to move out and the cats will likely be abandoned.

“People who are animal hoarders don’t care if their cats have more litters, they’ll never care,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with that to them.”

When she was at the house, she had to be careful where she was stepping.

“There were little ones, baby ones, big ones – every place I looked there was a cat,” she said. “It’s just crazy. That’s what’s going on out there. We got a lot of other problems than just cats, though.”

The councilors will continue to research the issue before coming up with a proposed amendment and then move to a public hearing.