Eldred Borough posted a new ordinance to social media Thursday, making residents aware that feeding feral cats is no longer allowed within the borough.

The announcement received an immediate — and unsupportive — response.

The ordinance, dated Oct. 14, 2020, notes that “the proliferation of feral cats and feral cat colonies throughout the state including the Borough of Eldred has resulted in a growing number of feral cat colonies (with an) ever increasing population of feral cats.”

This has become a health and safety hazard for residents of the area, which has led to the new ordinance from the mayor and council of the Borough of Eldred.

The ordinance outlines the definition of a feral cat — any homeless, wild or untamed cat, versus a stray cat — any cat whose owner or keeper from time to time allows the cat to run free off of the property of the owner or keeper. It also notes that “It shall be unlawful for any owner of any cat to permit such cat to run free outside the residence of its owner or keeper.”

Once the difference between a feral cat and a stray cat have been set out, the ordinance states that feeding both categories of cats is now prohibited.

Per the ordinance, “It shall be unlawful for any person to feed feral cats, because such feeding causes a nuisance to neighbors or creates a condition contrary to the health, safety and welfare of the community; B. Any person found to be feeding stray or feral cats shall assume ownership of the cat and then be responsible for all immunizations and spayed/neutering of the animal, and compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes with regard to care of the animal.”

The potential penalties for violating the ordinance are listed as a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500 and imprisonment for not more than 30 days for each offense, following a summary conviction before a district justice.

The public response to the post on social media has been largely negative, with people citing concerns about starvation of animals that have become dependent on people feeding them, suggestions to partner with local organizations that work to Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) felines to help control a feral cat population and also introduction of the idea to direct the focus to pet owners who choose to let their animals roam freely outside, contributing to the problem of feral cats and overpopulation.

When asked how offenders will be caught, the official response was that another citizen would need to have photos or videos of an offender in the act, which they would then provide to the regional police. Residents who do this would also be required to testify in court.

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