Evansville ordinance: Taking care of a stray cat could make you liable

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – It is not a crime to feed homeless cats, but if you don’t want the responsibility of taking care of one, you may want to think twice before dishing out food.

It’s hard not to want to help stray cats who don’t have a responsible owner or a place to call home.

However, Vanderburgh County Humane Society Development Coordinator Amanda Coburn says, “If the cat is, you know, as they say, ‘fat and happy,’ and it just is kind of sauntering around the neighborhood, it probably just needs to keep hanging out outside because it has a happy life going house to house. Rest assured: you’re not the only one feeding it.”

But if you do fall for those piercing eyes, Coburn says that’s perfectly fine too.

“As long as they’re spayed or neutered and they’re not bothering anyone then its totally fine to have a little colony of outside kitties that you feed.”

According to the ordinance, all pet owners must keep pets on a leash or a contained area, but community cats fall outside of the ordinance.

“That didn’t account for community cats who as we’ve said before have never had an owner they’re just living outside.”

Although feeding cats isn’t against the law, you could still become liable.

“There’s the idea within the ordinance that you could be assuming responsibility — almost something similar to the community cat which is ‘trap, neuter, and release,'” says Todd Robertson, executive director of transportation and services.

‘Trap, neuter, and release’ was written back in 2015 to help control the stray cat population, while allowing for community cats to be free.

It’s an ordinance Coburn says is better than other city ordinances, like those in Ohio prohibiting people from helping stray cats.

“It’s really sad. How backward does a community like that have to be to have laws like that in place, and not only have laws like that on the books, but to enforce them?”

Members of the Vanderburgh County Humane Society say that there is still a stray cats problem in the community.

If you see a stray cat in your area contact animal control so they can trap, neuter, and release the cats back to the community.

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(This story was originally published on July 31, 2019)

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