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City to take feral cats from park

September 26, 2000

City to take feral cats from park



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The City of Hagerstown is looking for homes for about 20 wild cats that have been living in City Park.

The cats primarily live near Highland Way. For years a few people have been bringing the cats food, and taking them to a veterinarian for shots and to be spayed or neutered.

But City Project Coordinator Austin Abraham said that this year and in previous years some residents have complained about the cats, which sometimes wander into the nearby neighborhoods.

The city will try to move the cats out of the scenic park off Virginia Avenue.

"The city's concerns are there is no control over breeding or disease. Also, the food set out for them attracts other animals like skunks, possums and rodents," Abraham said.

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He said there is also concern that having the cats in the park encourages people to abandon their unwanted felines there. Abandoning one's cat is considered cruelty to animals, which is punishable by a of fine up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail, Abraham said.

"The park system is not designed to shelter cats," Abraham said.

Brenda Shane, who has been dropping off food and taking park cats to a veterinarian for the past three years, said the city's plan will not work.

"Even if you remove them all, eventually the park is going to have cats again," said Shane, who said new strays will replace any cats removed from the park. She advocates "stabilizing the population" by continuing her efforts.

Shane, who lives in Williamsport and works in Hagerstown, has taken about 20 park cats to be spayed or neutered over the past three years. She traps them and takes the cats to a veterinarian.

Shane has also taken food to the cats in the park almost every day for the last three years.

Abraham said the goal is to make the park cat-free, except for two cats that live around the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and are cared for by Linda Dodson, the museum educational coordinator.

"At this point we'll let them make the decisions for the cats on their immediate grounds," Abraham said.

Three or four people have expressed interest in taking one of the park cats home, he said.

Anyone interested in having one of the cats may contact the Department of Public Works at 301-739-8577, extension 178.

Abraham said there are no plans to do anything with the cats other than try and find new homes for them.

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