Cat Problems Faced
It appears as if the Wetzel County Commission and the county’s municipalities will be joining forces to combat the area’s cat problem.
Several municipal representatives, most from New Martinsville, along with Humane Society representatives and Rosy Cozart of the Wetzel County Animal Shelter, were present for Tuesday morning’s meeting. Mayor John Hopkins was also on hand on behalf of Paden City.
NM Councilman Jeff Wright spoke on behalf of the cities, as NM Mayor Keith Nelsen was unavailable to attend the meeting.
“We’d like to ask for some help with animal control,” Wright said. “We’ve met with Paden City and Hundred and Pine Grove, and they all have similar problems as us with these cats. We are seeing if you could give us some financial help. New Martinsville is the only one that has had any type of animal control officer, but financially, we could only support 20 hours a week.” Wright stated that due to the small amount of hours the city has offered to an animal control officer, the quality of the officer has not been up to standard. “You don’t get quality people when you only offer 20 hours a week,” New Martinsville Council Member Steve Pallisco stated. “These people are working second and third jobs.”
“You say cats are the problem,” Commission President Bob Gorby noted. “What do you do with them?”
“We don’t know what to do with them,” Pallisco noted. “The Humane Society helped us staff a building up there, at the North Hydro. We have air, heat. Water is a problem up there. That’s all we had at the time. We’d keep them up there. Our animal control that we had was supposed to capture the cat, go to the neighbors to see if it was their cat, and then we’d take them (to the shelter to be euthanized) after five days. But the last time our guy wasn’t taking them anywhere.”
Gorby stated that at the lower end of Paden City, cats were being taken to the Olive Branch Animal Rescue and Refuge in Tyler County. He remarked that an individual from the organization had called the commission and inquired about the county using this method. “She was supposed to call us back but she never did,” he noted.
“We’ve tried microchips in the cats’ necks,” Pallisco stated. He added a device could be used to scan the microchip. The device would then show who the cat belonged to.
One individual noted that the Humane Society of the United States is now saying that trapping, neutering, and releasing the cats might not be such a good idea, as cats are eliminating birds.
“I think personally it’s like a drug problem,” Pallisco said. “We aren’t going to get rid of it completely, but we can get to a level where it is controllable. I’m personally beyond knowing what to do.”
“We didn’t get a plan together, because we didn’t know if you were interested in helping us,” Wright said to the commissioners.
“This isn’t unique to Wetzel County,” Commissioner Don Mason noted, before asking what kind of program is being implemented in larger cities.
After trapping, neutering, and releasing was mentioned by another individual, Cozart stated that the method only works in specific situations. “If the cats are still bothering the neighbors, it’s not working,” she remarked.
“We’d like to see a full-time worker,” Wright noted. He suggested the individual could then devote a day of the week to each municipality.
“We’ve got a gentleman that works some,” Gorby noted. “But mostly it’s dogs, because the state doesn’t require us to take cats.”
“We’d be willing to make use of the building, ” Wright stated. When asked about cages at the hydro building, Pallisco stated that there were five or six. It was noted that a water line would be necessary, however.
“The building will solve the problem in New Martinsville,” Mason noted. “What about Paden City and Pine Grove and Hundred?”
Wright noted that the building could be used as a central location. “If we had a full-time officer, we could use the building for all of us.”
Pallisco stated that if the commission is willing to help, the cities could formulate a plan, including cost, and then approach the commission again.
“I think we are willing to help out on this, aren’t we?” Gorby asked, which Mason agreed to. Mason added that maybe they should research how other counties and states solve the problem.
Gorby stated that The Humane Society of Pleasants County takes all cats in, in their county. Cozart stated that the animal shelter takes in cats when they can.
“We run a waiting list,” she noted. “We don’t kill them, and whenever we have room, then we bring the next cat in. We help a lot of cats, and we help with the spay and neuter. We only have so much manpower, and we have to focus on dogs. We take all the stray dogs in the county, so our hands are tied.
“If we don’t start something, it’ll get worse,” Wright said. “It’s going to keep getting worse. We aren’t going to correct the problem 100 percent, but right now, people can’t even sit on furniture they buy for their porches without cat hair all over them. We want to be able to enjoy our houses, and I know a lot of people up in Steelton have a lot of problems about urination of cats under trailers. They can’t get rid of the smell.”
“Mr. President, I have no problem with a sit-down discussion,” Mason noted. “We need to have a representative from each of the communities-Pine Grove, Paden City, Hundred, and New Martinsville, and probably a commissioner and Rosy on board for us.”
“That’s what we’ve tried to do before at this point,” Wright said. “We wanted to know your guys’ feelings on this. We aren’t looking to shove it all on people. We work together on this because it’s a countywide problem. We wanted to get an idea of where everybody stood and if everybody wanted to work together.”
“I think a meeting is going to have to be done,” Vice President Larry Lemon noted. He added that cities would have to research their current ordinances, as it might dictate what the group would come up with.