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Cat ordinance postponed

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, left, explains a new proposed animal control ordinance that addresses feral cats while Lynn Kennedy - a cat expert who helped craft the ordinance - looks on.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, left, explains a new proposed animal control ordinance that addresses feral cats while Lynn Kennedy - a cat expert who helped craft the ordinance - looks on.

ALBANY -- After a lengthy discussion, the Albany City Commission once again tabled a proposed change to the board's animal control policy that would create a new program meant to help control the feral cat population.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith presented the ordinance to the commission, which would create a feral cat program that would facilitate a relationship with a non-profit group known as the "Catnappers," who have been collecting feral cats and having them spayed and neutered.

According to Smith, the ordinance bans the tethering or "leashing" of cats -- a move that was once considered -- and requires all non-feral cats to either have a collar with ID, or be micro-chipped.

The sticking point, at least for Mayor Willie Adams and a handful of others around the table, was the cost of implementing the program -- a figure that hasn't yet been figured.

"I"m concerned with the hidden or underlying costs of this thing," Adams said. "I'm hearing requests for staff time and startup costs and all of that means money. I don't want to do anything that's going to use more tax dollars on a program."

Smith said that's why staff is recommending that the commission implement a smaller pilot program in areas where feral cat colonies have been identified to see determine costs and impact on existing staff.

Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said he had concerns about the cost of the program and a recommendation from staff for the commission to consider requiring animal control officers to become certified peace officers through the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council.

"I think the ordinance is well thought out but I don't think the implementation of the ordinance has been very well thought out," Pike said. "Now its looking like the costs are going to be more than we thought -- and to make animal control to be POST certified -- I don't think we need an APD officer catching cats when we have people robbing, stealing and killing."

Commissioner Tommie Postell asked that the commission table consideration of the ordinance until staff could provide more information on the cost.

"I don't see a cat problem. Cats are non-domesticatable, but not harmful to humans unless they are encountered in a negative way," Postell said. "I'm not against cats. I'm against spending tax dollars hunting cats."