Eureka’s draft animal ordinance needs work
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.