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Changes to Salina cat code coming

Salina's cat law needs to be rewritten, according to the supervisor and several residents who say the existing law, passed in 2005, isn't working the way it was supposed to.

"There are definitely some problems with it," said Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra. "We're putting together a committee to take a look at it and to try to put something together that will address those problems. We need to do something to make it viable."

The original law, Salina Local Law 2005-3, went into effect Sept. 26, 2005. It was drafted to address the growing population of feral cats within the town.

"That was the original goal," Nicotra said. "We had an issue with feral cats, and the idea was that if we could catch and sterilize them, we could make it less of an issue."

The original law did address feral cats, defining feral cat colonies, setting guidelines for the registration and care of those colonies and mandating that all adult cats that could be captured be spayed or neutered and vaccinated. However, the law also made an effort to regulate domestic pets. Cats deemed to be a nuisance could be impounded by the animal control officer based upon a complaint and taken to the SPCA.

Linda Young, who operates Kitty Corner, a cat rescue organization in Liverpool, was on the committee that wrote the original law, and she agreed that it has proved problematic.

"The problem is that it's not being read the way we intended it," Young said. "What happened was sort of a comedy of errors. The previous board and everybody who worked on the law knew what we wanted -- we wanted to address the people with a genuine nuisance concern and to encourage people to act responsibly. That's what we thought it said. But apparently it wasn't as clear as we thought -- people took it as a leash law for cats, and that's not what we had intended."

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