Eu­reka’s draft an­i­mal or­di­nance needs work

Times Standard (Eureka) - - OPINION - By Jim Clark This mes­sage is ap­proved by Ca­lyx and Corolla, happy in­door cats of Eu­reka res­i­dents Jim and Donna Clark.

The pro­posed re­vised Eu­reka An­i­mal Or­di­nance goes a long way to cor­rect the an­ti­quated and vague lan­guage in the cur­rent or­di­nance but some­times goes the wrong way. There are sev­eral sub­sec­tions that need at­ten­tion be­cause they are either ar­bi­trary, such as the three cat and dog limit, or il­log­i­cal.

One il­log­i­cal sub­sec­tion is 91.205 “AN­I­MALS AT LARGE No Owner or Cus­to­dian may al­low any Do­mes­tic An­i­mal un­der their con­trol to run at large on pub­lic prop­erty or the pri­vate prop­erty of an­other. This sec­tion does not ap­ply to Do­mes­tic Cats.” There is no log­i­cal rea­son why this sub­sec­tion should not ap­ply to do­mes­tic cats. While it may be tra­di­tional to al­low cats to roam free, free roam­ing cats do not pro­vide any pub­lic ben­e­fit. In fact, free roam­ing cats are a threat to wildlife and pub­lic health. Free roam­ing cats prey on wildlife and spread dis­ease. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Bird Con­ser­vancy, cats kill 2.4 bil­lion birds per year in the United States alone. Cats are also ob­li­gate hosts to tox­o­plas­mo­sis, a dis­ease that af­fects wildlife and hu­mans. The ef­fects of tox­o­plas­mo­sis on hu­mans goes be­yond en­dan­ger­ing hu­man fe­tuses. Sev­eral species of marine mam­mals are also sus­cep­ti­ble to this dis­ease. Al­though in­fected cats show no symp­toms, they leave mil­lions of tox­o­plas­mo­sis cysts in each fe­cal de­posit, wait­ing to in­fect ro­dents or other an­i­mal, in­clud­ing hu­mans. Hu­mans could be ex­posed by gath­er­ing car­rots from, or merely cul­ti­vat­ing a gar­den that cats use as a lit­ter box. Al­though hu­man ex­po­sure to ra­bies is more com­mon for cats than dogs, cats are not re­quired to be vac­ci­nated for ra­bies.

There is also the so called “scoop law” that makes an­i­mal own­ers re­spon­si­ble for their an­i­mals defe­cat­ing on the prop­erty of an­other. Why should this law not ap­ply to cat own­ers? Hav­ing to deal with the fe­ces of some­one else cat in your yard de­prives you of the full en­joy­ment of your prop­erty. This is a clas­sic def­i­ni­tion of a nui­sance.

Al­low­ing cats to roam free is also bad for cats. Free roam­ing cats risk in­jury and dis­ease at a higher rate than cats well kept at home. Free roam­ing fer­tile cats also con­trib­ute to pop­u­la­tions of un­wanted and non-adopt­able feral cats.

There are many rea­sons, backed by facts too nu­mer­ous to cite in this ar­ti­cle, why cats should be fully in­cluded in the first sen­tence of the pro­posed sub­sec­tion 91.205. There is also the over­all rea­son that not al­low­ing cats to roam free is sim­ply re­spon­si­ble pet own­er­ship and part of be­ing a good neigh­bor and cit­i­zen.

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