Hissing debate continues online over town's feral cat population
A recent onslaught of feral kittens have several locals worried about endangerment to household pets, as the animals may be sick.
Several residents have posted to the Facebook group "Newberg Dundee Citizens Info Group," talking about discovering a group of newborn feral kittens in the area of Ninth and Charles streets. According to the post, the Newberg Animal Shelter would not take a batch of the kittens because of a "rampant illness" in that colony of cats.
The Newberg Animal Shelter does not accept or deal with feral cats, a representative said, so they had no comment about trapping or relocating the felines. Feral cats and kittens, they said, would more likely have to go to a veterinarian, although they do take in strays and attempt to reunite the animals with their owners.
Throughout the rest of July, there is a feral cat trapping event on Ninth and Locust streets in Dundee. A poster asks residents in that area to keep their cats inside or make sure the pet has a microchip or collar, as those animals will be released if accidentally caught. All other cats are being sent to the Orphan Kitten Rescue of Oregon, Meow Village, the Newberg Animal Shelter or the Cat Adoption Team.
The posts spurred debate and back-and-forth discussions between residents, some saying to leave the kittens alone so their mother could return, some saying try to capture the mother and kittens, and some asking to take the kittens in as pets.
Shannon Shafer, who manages the Orphan Kitten Rescue of Oregon, said the feral cat population has been growing in that part of Dundee for several years, after nearly 60 cats were released from a hording house. Groups attempted to trap most of them, but the problem persists.
"This is something that's been going on for quite a while," she said.
Just last week, driving around the two-block radius that seems to be the hotspot of activity, she said she saw 47 feral cats in the area. While they have not trapped yet, she said many of these cats are very sick. Most have been identified as having feline immunodeficiency virus, which is fatal and transferrable to other cats. Therein lies the problem, she said, if domestic cats are getting outside.
"That's why we wanted to notify the neighborhood and let them know what type of disease is in the community," she said.
While she remains optimistic they can get the cats and kittens medical help, if they have FIV or other transmittable diseases, they have to be euthanized. She thinks the kittens, if caught in time, can be nourished back to health and then eventually domesticated.
In the meantime, she stressed it's important to spay or neuter the cats that can be released and that spaying and neutering can bring the population under control. Rescue shelters are overloaded with kittens because of cats not getting fixed.
"I want people to be educated on what is happening in their community," she said.
Based off online chatter, however, the cats will likely be captured, transported to a vet and then spayed or neutered before returning to the wild.
Brian Hagen, the public information officer for the Newberg-Dundee Police Department, said he was aware of at least one post on Facebook which generated a call to police. He said in the case of this post, the person trapping "was found to be a legitimate company with experience in the matter and was not found to have any malicious intent."
"There are no specific ordinances in Newberg-Dundee that deal with cats like there are for dogs, so it would not be a police issue," Hagen said. "However, it is considered a theft to take someone's domestic pet with the intent of keeping the animal permanently or to withhold it from its owner. The criminal intent has to be present. An individual or company trapping the cats for the reasons I saw posted would likely not meet the criteria for a theft."
The NDPD responds to reports of stray dogs, vicious attacks by animals and unreasonably loud noises made by animals.
A Facebook poster said they have not yet trapped any cats in response to being accused of trapping and stealing another woman's pet cat. The post read that the cats that look to be emaciated and carrying sickness will be the ones trapped, as the Locust neighborhood has had nearly half a dozen cats test positive for some feline illness in the past six months.
According to the Newberg Animal Shelter, the following places provide spaying and neutering services: Homeward Bound in McMinnville, the Oregon Spay/Neuter Fund, Spay and Save, Family Pet Partners, the Feral Cat Coalition and the Cat Adoption Team.
According to the Feral Cat Coalition, taking in and domesticating a feral cat can prove difficult. Some are formerly house pets that became lost, while others were born in the wild, and temperament can vary. Kittens can be more easily tamed, but should not be captured before they mature to at least four weeks old. Older kittens may also be tamed, but the process becomes more difficult the longer they are in the wild. Taming a kitten can take anywhere from two to six weeks. They should also be checked by a veterinarian immediately for diseases.
The coalition also recommends making sure the mother cat is captured and then spayed before being released back into the wild to prevent further litters.
More cat news
This was not the only cat-related news in the area. On Wednesday, 47-year-old Samuel Banks, of McMinnville, was arrested on four counts of animal abandonment after a container of kittens was found in an illegal dump site on Peavine Road just outside of town. The kittens were discovered by the sheriff's deputies and were taken to Homeward Bound Pets the day before Banks's arrest. Banks was booked and released before appearing in court Friday to face the misdemeanor charges.
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