Wellington Limits Number Of Cats For Owners

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Monday, December 31, 2012

The start of a new year always brings the start of new laws on the books. One that’s catching not only our attention, but also national attention on Good Morning America, happens to involve a new ordinance in Wellington limiting the number of cats you can own to four.

You might not notice the problem of stray cats just driving down the street, whether in Wellington or any other Kansas community, but those who deal with it say it’s there.

"We were picking up, compared to years past, a couple hundred cats per year,” said Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath. “We're hoping that this new ordinance may lower that number."

This year alone through November, he says 231 cats were picked up in Wellington. So the city came up with changes to its animal ordinance, which includes a section saying “no person or household shall own or harbor more than four cats of more than six months of age or more than one litter of kittens."

The idea of the new law is to limit the number of feral cats on the streets of Wellington. Some question whether the law actually goes far enough.

"We've never really put anything in writing that limits the numbers,” said Wellington Veterinarian Richard Heersche, DVM. “But people have complained about the stray cats running around."

Dr. Heersche says he’s seen hundreds of cats, some feral or wild, like one brought to him over the years to hold. But when they can’t be adopted, they’re put down.

"You don't have a lot of folks who adopt cats and unfortunately the cats end up being euthanized," Heath said.

Wellington Humane Society President Linda Stewart says the limit or four cats is practical. Another board member and former council member, Paula Mortimer, questions whether the ordinance goes far enough. The ordinance also requires adopted cats to be spayed or neutered.

The hope is that restricting ownership will lower the cat population.

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