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City Commission to revisit controversial cat ordinance

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission will re-open discussions today on a controversial animal control ordinance that would officially define cats as "animals" and allow animal control officers to legally confiscate them.

When the topic was last discussed by the commission, it prompted national headlines when it was discovered that, because of language in the ordinance, it would require cats to be hemmed in or leashed like dogs to prevent them from wandering onto other people's property.

The draft ordinance and resolution that will be discussed at today's commission meeting will amend the current ordinance to include cats in the official definition of "animal" while declaring that the focus of animal control should be on capturing feral or wild cats.

Cats were intentionally excluded from the ordinance when it was drafted by former City Commissioner Laurie Jenkins almost 30 years ago because she recognized the difficulty of herding them.

"You can't fence them in, and you can't leash them like dogs," she told The Herald following the Jan. 26, 2010 meeting when the commission voted for the change. "There is just no way to control them once you let them outside. They go where they want, so the whole thing is impractical."

City Attorney Nathan Davis said Monday that the amendment to the ordinance doesn't spell out how animal control officers are to distinguish between domesticated cats and feral cats, but that the commission could choose to spell that out during discussions.