Belpre City Council discusses feral cat program

Kandi Habeb, president and founder of the Save A Feral Kitty Program, gave an update on the program’s activities in Belpre at Monday’s meeting of Belpre City Council. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

BELPRE — Belpre city officials received an update about the feral cat program in Belpre on Monday night at the Belpre City Building.

Daniel Law, Third Ward councilman, called a meeting of Belpre City Council’s parks and recreation committee to talk with Kandi Habeb, president and founder with the Save A Feral Kitty Program.

The goal of the program is to reduce the population of feral cats by breaking the fertility cycle. While providing food for feral cats, the program also practices “trap, neuter, return” by catching cats, spaying/neutering and vaccinating them and then releasing them but without the ability to bear new litters.

In addition to working with other local programs, Habeb said the Save A Kitty program also brings in a mobile clinic which offers spay and neuter services along with vaccinations several times each year. The next clinic will be Oct. 18 at the Belpre Bingo Hall and about 45 cats are expected to go through the clinic, she said.

Habeb estimated about 400 to 500 surgeries take place each year through the Save A Kitty program. She believes it is a more humane way to address the feral cat program since most feral cats are non-adoptable due to their fear of humans and often face euthanasia if taken to shelters.

She believes the program has helped reduce euthanasia intake at local shelters for feral cats by 30 percent since the program started in 2004.

One of the reasons for Monday’s discussion was due to complaints received by the city regarding people who leave food and trash around the ballfields, dugouts and playground which have resulted in animal waste in and around those facilities.

Habeb said the all-volunteer Save A Kitty program only leaves food in designated areas with permission from property owners. In Belpre, the program has received permission for a feeding station on the Belpre Civitan Club property and only puts out food at that location, she said.

The Save A Kitty program is not responsible for people intentionally or accidentally leaving food in other areas, or those who don’t pick up dropped food and trash in those public areas that attract feral cats and other wildlife, she said.

Law said he would like to see about putting up signage and providing other information to the public regarding the issue, which may result in people not leaving food in inappropriate areas.

* In other business, the Belpre Firefighters Association will be holding a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. today at the Belpre Bingo Hall regarding the proposed tax levy for emergency medical and fire services which will be in the November ballot in Belpre, to run for five years.

Belpre Fire Chief Tony Cronin said the purpose of the meeting is to provide information about how the levy funds would be used and to answer questions from the public. One example involves the need for a new fire truck to replace an aging engine still in use by the department, he said.

* Council president Will Neff scheduled a pair of public hearings for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 before the next council meeting on variance requests. One involves a two-foot variance for a billboard in the Farson Street area. The other involves a request to rezone the Middleton Doll Building from M-1 manufacturing to C-2 commercial zoning.

During his report to council Monday evening, Mayor Mike Lorentz said work has started on the Middleton building to renovate as the new home for Boxers Bed and Breakfast.

* Lorentz said residents will see police cruisers from several local jurisdictions in Belpre today. Officers from Parkersburg, Vienna, Beverly, Washington County, Marietta College and Belpre will be attending a class by the Columbus Bomb Squad and Homeland Security for local officers.

Belpre Police Chief Terry Williams said classroom instruction will occur this morning while the early afternoon will involve outdoor instruction on property off Washington Boulevard from 1-3 p.m. today. The afternoon session may involve loud noises, but people should not be alarmed, according to Williams.

* Council also approved all three readings of a resolution which will permit the mayor’s office to join with an expected coalition of other Ohio municipalities in challenging recent state actions which would require all municipal income taxes to be paid to the state of Ohio directly, which would then disburse them back to the cities, minus a fee. A lawsuit is expected to be filed challenging that regulation on the basis of the home rule statute in Ohio’s constitution.