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Animal advocate criticizes ordinance

ALBANY -- A compromise to an animal control ordinance that drew the ire of a former city commissioner and animal advocate may be in the works.

During its January 26 voting meeting, the Albany City Commission voted to amend the city's animal control ordinance and remove an existing exception that had previously excluded cats from the definition of "animal."

But that move drew criticism from former city commissioner Laurie Jenkins, who said that she helped draft that ordinance with former mayor Motey Wiggins and intentionally excluded cats largely because of their free roaming nature.

The city, which has been rounding up wild or feral cats for years, has said they simply needed to close a loophole in the ordinance to ensure their cat-trapping was legal.

But that posture could shift following a move by Ward 4 Commissioner Roger Marietta.

Marietta asked Mayor Willie Adams to put an item on the next agenda to discuss the animal ordinance and whether there needs to be a separation between feral cats and domesticated or house cats.

Ironically, Albany isn't the only government in Georgia taking up the feral cat issue.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission has voted to legalize a program designed to reduce the number of feral cats in the county.

The method is called trap-neuter-return. Practitioners may register with the county to feed, trap, vaccinate and sterilize feral cats with permission from landowners. The commission is providing $10,000 in vouchers for rabies vaccine and sterilization.

The program is similar to one undertaken by volunteers in Albany and Dougherty County and is aimed at reducing the population of feral cats by hampering their ability to reproduce.