Follow-up: Indian Harbour Beach Ordinance

Last Wednesday, I reported that the Indian Harbour Beach (FL) City Council had voted in favor of ordinance revisions that would effectively ban the feeding and care of feral cats. At the time, I hadn’t seen the final wording of the ordinance, however. Nor did I have any details of the lively discussion that preceded the council’s decision.

According to Florida Today reporter Rick Neale, the council “softened the proposed terms of a citywide cat-colony crackdown.”

“Initially, City Council considered a blanket-style ordinance that would prohibit registered cat colonies across the community. After debate, council members unanimously adopted a version that prohibits future colonies on public property… [but] allows future colonies on private properties, so long as landowners secure City Council approval.” [1]

As for exactly how one might go about securing such approval, I’ve seen nothing spelled out in either the paper or in the ordinance itself. Given what I have read, though, this looks to be a concession only in theory.

In a letter to the editor published Friday, Indialantic resident Lynn Zies complained that “factual evidence fell on the deaf ears” of a council that was “determined to pass the ordinance… without regard to the experts in the room, including Kathy Beatson, acting director of Brevard Animal Services.”

Gregg Eddie, of Indian Harbour Beach, echoed Zies’ comment, describing council members as “out of touch and uneducated to the entire feral cat situation… especially James Nolan and Mary Ann [sic] O’Neill. It was obvious Mr. Nolan wanted the cats gone no matter what any of the public had to say.”

Neale reported that “more than 50 people attended the two-hour discussion, with 18 advocates lobbying on behalf of cats.” [1] And according to Zies, “the outpouring of support for the cats was substantial, and greatly outnumbered the complaints.”

Additional support was demonstrated by Best Friends (which is, according to Zies’ account, “willing to advise and help with solutions”) and Alley Cat Allies—which, writes Neale, will be teaming up with Beatson “to study Gleason Park cat issues.” [1]

“Beatson plans to deliver a report within 30 days.”

So why couldn’t the council wait 30 days?

Zies says councilman David Panicola proposed to do exactly that, but this, too, “fell on deaf ears.” Referring to the same failed proposal, Eddie describes Panicola as “the only member who showed any common sense and willingness to further educate himself regarding the feral cats.”

Panicola will, writes Eddie, “get my vote; others will not.”

The council’s other concession involves the cats at Gleason Park, “the epicenter of cat controversy,” as Neale puts it. Caretaker Mary Manierre’s deadline to “remove her furry charges” [1] has been extended to December 31 (the original deadline being June 11).

If, as Neale reported previously, Manierre is caring for “20 or so cats,” [2] she’s going to need the additional time. And all the help she can get—safely relocating that many cats is no trivial undertaking.

Literature Cited

1. Neale, R. (2013, January 9). Indian Harbour Beach bans feral cat colonies from its parks. Florida Today, from http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013301090032

2. Neale, R. (2013, January 7). Indian Harbour Beach may prohibit feral cat colonies. Florida Today, from http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013301080017

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