There has been an outcry against the City of Phenix City government on social media and from outside news outlets regarding the ongoing removal of feral cat colonies around town. Many people are outraged, accusing city officials of not valuing life. I attend all of the council meetings and can tell you first hand that it is not a matter of not valuing life. The city is not just some mindless machine bent on destruction; it is composed of people who are just like you. They are parents, grandparents, and, yes, animal lovers. While you think the city is going about this all wrong, it is more complicated beneath the surface. There are health and safety regulations that have to be followed, there are liabilities to consider, and the city has limited resources.
First you have to look at the source of the problem. Rescue groups and heroic individuals are doing what they can to help the situation, but we have an animal population problem—worse, we have an animal neglect and abandonment problem. Everything that is being done will only be a Band-aid until we go to the root of the problem. We can’t just point a finger at the city, not when its citizens are the ones responsible for tossing animals out onto the street like yesterday’s trash, instead of treating them like sentient, living creatures who need to be loved and protected.
The city is doing its best not only to protect itself from a lawsuit if someone gets bitten by a rabid stray, but they are doing their best to protect its citizens. Euthanizing is horrible and the city is trying everything to avoid that last resort, but prevention is key. Why are people dumping animals? Are we making it affordable for people to neuter and spay their animals? Cat colonies are not bad, if controlled. They help keep down the rodent population; however, the cats must be ‘fixed’ and have their shots—a ‘catch and release’ program. They must be healthy and not be allowed to breed unchecked.
People in our community are pointing fingers and yelling that something needs to be done, but nothing is getting done. There needs to be a consortium for rescue organizations, concerned citizens, veterinarians, and government officials to come together to work on exploring possible solutions for action. Unless we come together as a community, the city is the one who has to make hard decisions that no one wants to make.
By Toni Stauffer, Staff Writer