Cat Calamity

NASHUA – Resident Gary Braun recently acknowledged distributing leaflets throughout the city conveying his opinion that Nashua leaders may capture innocent cats.

Monday, Braun took his complaints about Ordinance 19-052 to the Personnel/Administrative Affairs Committee meeting. The ordinance would alter city code 93-6: Impoundment of Dogs, Cats, Ferrets and Chickens.

The main portion of the code states: “The dog officer or other authorized person shall take into custody and impound ….

The language to be added to this code states: “Any cat or ferret which is off the premises of the owner and either a) a nuisance or b) suspected of being or which is diseased or injured, and (7) Any cat or ferret which the Dog Office or other authorized person has reason to believe is a stray.”

Nevertheless, city officials said Nashua Police Department Animal Control Officer Bob Langis and other authorized personnel will not be asked to change how they operate regarding roaming felines.

“How could it not be different going forward?” Braun wondered on Monday. “What you have done is given the animal control officer a great deal of discretion that wasn’t there before.”

“This is a massive, radical change in the way the city handles animal control,” he added.

The amended language received a 4-0 vote in favor of passage during the meeting, as it now heads back to the Board of Aldermen for final consideration.

City officials maintain they are attempting to clarify what could be seen as a vague, yet implied, understanding that Langis and other officials are within their rights to impound cats who are off their owners’ properties.

Nashua Alderwoman Patricia Klee was the sponsor of the law’s new language. She has been the target of negative phone calls from angry residents, mostly due to the flyers Braun spread throughout the city.

Klee and Langis attest that there will be no changes in how the city will deals with cats, unless the animals are sick, injured, or reported as a nuisance.

“I spoke with Bob Langis, and basically our conversation was that it is not our expectation that he should go around looking for cats. It’s just business as usual,” Klee said over the phone Tuesday. “There are no changes in expectations of him. He knows there is no added work load or anything on him – must status quo.”

Langis confirmed he talked with Klee regarding the updated ordinance, while admitting he too was initially worried he might have a lot more work on his hands – work he described as impossible had he been tasked to track down cats.

Langis said he isn’t planning on making any changes to how he deals with stray cats, most importantly because it would be almost impossible to drive by a cat that is outside and discern whether it is on its owner’s property.

While his job will remain the same, Langis said property owners who are having issues with a cat that is being a nuisance are within their legal rights to humanely deal with the problem.

“I’ll probably get a lot more calls where people will say, ‘I have a problem cat in my yard; what do I do now?'” he continued. “I’ll give them the advice I’ve been giving to people over the last 30 years…If you have a problem cat that comes into your yard, you as a property owner can humanely trap a cat and bring it to the appropriate location.”

Braun said believes the intentions of Klee and the city seem to be well intentioned, however, he does not trust that the amendment will not change the directive given to the animal control officer.

“I do not believe it is going to be the status quo because the proposed law gives the city the legal authority to regulate cats in a way that the city does not have under the current law,” he added.

He said he continues to disagree with Klee on the basis that the update is just a clarification of the current ordinance, which he pointed out, does not mention cats anywhere but within its title.

“I guess that comes down to the basic disagreement I have with Ms. Klee,” Braun said.“This is the first time I can remember that the city is trying to regulate cats the way they regulate dogs, by keeping them on the premises of their owner’s property.”

With the ordinance headed back to the the Board of Aldermen for the 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 meeting, Klee hopes the controversy will soon end.

“We are not implementing a leash law – it’s basically just a clarification,” Klee added.

Mathew Plamondon may be reached at 594-1244, or at mplamondon@nashuatelegraph.com, @telegraph_MatP.