Free-Wheeling Furballs Have Residents Furious

June 9, 2015.pmd

Cat menace brewing in Woodland Park

Residents ask for help

A group of Woodland Park residents in a prime downtown neighborhood want immediate help in combating a pending cat menace.

Last week, a handful of residents, described an onslaught of feline concerns from at-large cats that were invading their properties at night, sleeping and littering on porches and creating a spree of health problems for them, their kids and their pets. “I do not want these cats,” said resident Paul Oppman, in addressing the city council. He and other neighbors described a growing crisis with irresponsible feline owners, who abide by the philosophy that, “I can do whatever I want in the mountains. That is wrong. There are laws. There are codes.”

“It is a health concern,” added resident Vicki Russell, who also unveiled horror stories about her own attempts to solve the problem. Similar stories were told by resident Beverly Shaw, who said many cats are just “doing their own thing” outside their owners’ property and endangering the rights of neighbors.

And unfortunately, the residents maintained their hands are tied by animal control ordinances that don’t address cats. Woodland Park Police Chief Bob Larson confirmed this fact, and noted that any attempt to seize the delinquent cats could be construed as a crime. “There are no clear rules,” admitted Larson. He stated that the city has mostly complied with the standards adopted by the county. To date, there are no county restrictions pertaining to wandering cats.

But the residents argued that it’s time to change this free-for-all attitude about cats.

“Cats have not been addressed (with the current animal control laws). But the time has come,” added Oppman, who said the group has tried to unsuccessfully take their concerns before the county and the sheriff’s department. “We have no recourse. You are our only recourse.”

He suggested that the city amend its regulations to include cats under rules pertaining to animal-at-large restrictions. Under this definition, felines would be confined to their own property, and would be treated in a similar fashion as dogs.

City elected leaders expressed bafflement over the issue, and admitted they didn’t know the best course of action to pursue.

Councilman Bob Carlsen sympathized with the residents’ plight and asked the city staff to further review the current laws and to possibly add cat rules to their codes, and set regulations for the licensing and inoculation of felines.

City attorney Erin Smith said she would review these concerns and examine what steps it could take.