Controlling the city of Polo’s feral cat population may soon be the responsibility of a private group of local citizens that took issue with the city’s recent ordinance regarding the felines.
Project Humane Polo made a presentation to the city council on Monday where it offered to establish a trap neuter release program, address nuisance cat situations, and work to reduce the city’s feral cat population all at its own expense.
The group currently has 96 volunteers and has raised $400 in funds.
“I know every year there’s been a cat issue in Polo,” Project Humane Polo Member Cheryl Galor said. “I think this is our solution. The best way to save 100, 200 or 300 cats is to start neutering one, another one and another one. We do need to address this problem and we have a good program and solution for all of the complaints that have been going on.”
Project Humane Polo has partnered with nonprofit Happy Tails Humane Society in Rock Falls and plans to take the feral cats there to provide spay and neutering services and veterinary care for a fee of $32 per cat.
Happy Tails President Mark Razo has been working with the group and attended the meeting Monday to address concerns and questions.
“TNR is a way to reduce your cat population in the town,” Razo said. “TNR is a humane way to solve the problem. You will reduce the population. We are supporting that and helping them raise money for that. The city doesn’t have to fund this at all. We could also go for grants with the city’s cooperation.”
Polo’s recent feral cat ordinance included fines for those caught feeding cats they don’t own as well as limiting the number of animals residents can own.
Alderman Troy Boothe asked the group if they could guarantee him that problem cats will be addressed, especially those that defecate on people’s property, which has been a main issue for the city.
“It sounds promising, but it doesn’t address defecation,” Boothe said. “I need problem cats gone, period. I have a responsibility for everybody. I’m 100 percent for it if that will happen. I don’t want to hear there are resource constraints when there is a problem.”
Galor responded by saying the group would relocate those animals.
“Give us a chance,” Galor said. “I know we have a program that’s going to work. These are solutions. If the cat is really a nuisance, we will relocate it.”
Project Humane Polo estimates there are 500 feral cats in town, but is unsure of the accuracy of that number, which is based on a formula. Under their plan, volunteers would trap and transport the cats for treatment before releasing them back where they were found.
The treated cats would also be microchipped and have their ears notched to be tracked. Nuisance cats could be released outside of town. The group plans on it being at least a three-year program.
City Attorney Tom Suits raised the issue of potential liability for the city by giving the responsibility to address the issue to Project Humane Polo.
“There’s absolutely potential liability,” Suits said. “If the nuisance call comes to the city and the city contacts this group to go handle it, is the city liable for something that may happen? We don’t know that.”
The city did not take any action on the issue after the presentation and said it will work to have it on its next agenda, possibly for approval.