Police chief: No need to shoot animals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 11, 2009

VIDALIA — No one should have shot Sox, or for that matter any other cat, Vidalia Police Chief Ronnie G. “Tapper” Hendricks said.

Sox, a cat whose leg was broken after someone took a potshot at him with a .22-caliber weapon in the city limits, has been featured on posters asking “Who shot Sox?”

No one knows if Sox wandered onto the property of a cranky landowner or if the shooting was outright malicious.

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“If you’ve got a cat that is crawling on your car and messing up the paint job, you don’t have to shoot it,” Hendricks said. “You can call the police station and ask for the animal control officer to come set a trap. That’s a service we provide.”

Sox was a stray with several unofficial caregivers, but pet owners need to be aware that there is a leash law that applies to cats, Hendricks said.

“I had to look it up myself, but it says that the leash law doesn’t apply as long as (the cat) is on their own property,” he said. “When they leave their property, it does.”

Unless he gets a call about a nuisance cat or he accidentally catches one in a trap he set for skunks, Animal Control Officer Toxie Burnette said he doesn’t go out of his way to catch cats.

“How are you going to leash law a cat?” he said.

When he catches a cat, Burnette said he will either house the animal in a large dog trap at the Vidalia animal impound or take it to a local veterinarian for housing.

When time runs out, though, he doesn’t euthanize them.

“I start trying to find them a home,” he said. “If I can’t find them a home, though, I have to set them free.”

Burnette said he takes the animals south of town past D.A. Biglane Road to free them.

The best way to ensure that you get your pet back if they are trapped or picked up is to put a collar on them, Hendricks said.

“Just put a name and a phone number on it,” Hendricks said. “Even do it for cats.”

And the other way to ensure that the cat problem stays in check is easy — make sure they don’t reproduce.

“It’s like Bob Barker used to always say — get your pets spayed and neutered,” Hendricks said.