Downtown kitties now extinct?

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — Humane Society Vice President Nan Garrison said the case of downtown cat killings is mostly closed, just like the case of the dinosaurs.

“They’re all dead,” she said, referring to cats left outdoors. “I’m still totally confused. In the summer of 2011, within about a five-week period, we had 31 cats killed.”

From the end of July to the middle of August, Garrison said, numerous citizens in the downtown Natchez area witnessed a pack of three to four dogs killing cats. But in the past couple of weeks, just two cats have been killed near Auburn Avenue, she said.

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Another reason the maulings have stopped, Garrison said, is more dog owners have started abiding by the city’s leash law and cat owners have started keeping their cats indoors at night.

Additionally, she said, two of the dogs responsible for the killings were “arrested.”

One of the dogs was reclaimed by its owner — who first built a fence, she said — and the other went unclaimed. Garrison said she didn’t know whether the unclaimed dog was euthanized.

“On the one hand, I think some of the owners of these dogs are acting more responsibly, and I think there are a lot of people who are taking their animals in at night for their own safety,” she said. “I think a lot of (cats) have been killed, so there aren’t as many out there.”

But in order to keep the same issue from arising again, she said, something must be permanently changed.

“We probably need to beef up animal control, even if it’s only on a temporary basis,” Garrison said. “If you do that and you pick up every stray dog on the streets, then the dogs that are actually owned, their owners will come forth and they will realize that if animal control picks up your dogs on the street, you’re going to get served with violation of the leash law.”

This would be especially helpful because one of the first problems with serving people with leash law violations is that people don’t want to get their neighbors in trouble — they just want their neighbors’ dogs contained, she said.

With animal control being the ones to serve leash law violations, Garrison said, neighbors wouldn’t have to get involved.

“I think if I take you to court and you have to pay $200 for letting your (dog) run free, you probably won’t do it again,” she said.

Currently, Natchez has one animal control officer, and while she works from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. five days a week, Garrison said it’s just not feasible for the officer to be able to pick up each and every stray in Natchez.

“The problem we’re having is stray animals are roaming at 3 a.m., and animal control is not a 24-hour job,” Garrison said.

If a citizen has a better idea for how to control strays, she said, she’s happy to hear new thoughts.

“I don’t really know what the solution is — that’s why we’ve reached out to everybody,” Garrison said. “The bottom line is leash law enforcement.”