Leash law blamed in cat deaths

Published 12:06 am Saturday, September 10, 2011


The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Natchez residents are blaming poor leash law enforcement for enabling dogs to hunt, maul and kill more than 30 cats in the downtown area.

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Nan Garrison, vice president of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, said a large part of the problem is people are not abiding by the leash law.

“Cats are not subject to the leash law, whether people like that or not,” Garrison said. “You cannot live in the city limits and have a dog and it not be in a fenced-in yard or on a leash. There are quite a few people who think they are not subject to that.”

Garrison said another problem is people are doing a lot of talking about what’s going on, but nothing is being done. Garrison said the only solution she sees is nighttime animal control.

“The only problem is who is on the street,” she said. “Who is there?”

Angela Gibson’s 24-year-old cat, Pear, was killed in her backyard on Main Street at approximately 10:15 p.m. on Aug. 29. Gibson said Pear enjoyed sitting out on the back porch, which is where he was when the attack took place. She said she heard a noise at the back door and immediately jumped up and ran outside.

“I got out there just in time to see them running from the backyard with my cat in their mouth,” Gibson said.

Gibson said the large, muscular dogs dropped her cat in the alley. Gibson said Pear was not dead, and she took him to the veterinarian.

“There was nothing they could do,” she said. “They had to euthanize him.”

Gibson said the leash law needs to be better enforced. She said she thinks law enforcement or other proper authorities need to ride around at night and catch any loose dogs.

Mike Willey awoke to find two dogs on his back porch at his house on Oak Street at 3:30 Monday morning. He said the the dogs matched the description of the “cat killers.”

“They seemed to be looking for prey,” Willey said. “My wife and I have several cats that, thankfully, were in the house.”

Willey described the large dogs as a black Rottweiler mixed breed with some white markings and a brown retriever mixed breed with a feathery tail.

Willey said the dogs did not appear to be afraid of him.

“The Rottweiler showed me his teeth,” he said. “Based on the way they acted toward me, I think they could be a danger to people, as well as animals.”

Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton said the city is trying to identify the dogs’ owners. He said he suggests people get together and start a Neighborhood Watch.

“I’m riding around at 3 o’clock in the morning looking for these dogs,” he said. “I don’t understand why other people can’t do it. You don’t have to ride around, you can sit on your porch.”

Middleton said adding personnel is not the solution because it’s nearly impossible for a police or animal control officer to catch a dog.

“I feel sorry for the people who have lost their pets,” he said. “We’re doing the best we can.”

Middleton said he doesn’t want residents shooting dogs and accidentally shooting people or houses.

It is against the law to fire a weapon in the city.

Willey said he believes the owner of the dogs is aware of what is going on and is still letting the dogs out to kill anything they want.

“If one of those dogs threatens me again, I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t harm me or anyone or anything ever again,” he said.

Garrison said there will be no relief for cats or cat owners until the leash law is properly enforced and owners are held accountable.

Garrison said concerned residents will be going before the Natchez Board of Aldermen at Tuesday’s meeting to try and get some answers.

“People think these are stray feral cats running around downtown, they’re not,” she said. “All of these cats, except two, had an owner and a name. These are pets.”

If a resident spots the dogs between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, he or she should call should call Animal Control at 601-442-6452.

All other sightings should be reported to the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565 or to Garrison at her home number, 601-442-2156.