Resident complaints prompt more aggressive trapping program

Havelock Animal Control wants to cut the number of stray cats strutting the streets.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of stray cats we have in Havelock,” said Stephanie Adams, who is Animal Control officer for the city.

In response to complaints from residents, the city has mounted a more aggressive trapping program aimed at removing feral cats from neighborhoods, Adams said. The latest focus has been on Lee Drive in the western part of the city.

Havelock Police Chief David Magnusson said he planned to warn local residents so they can keep their pet cats indoors.

“If they are your pets, we can give you ample warning that it’s happening so that you can try to get a hold of your pets so that they’re not picked up,” he said. “Obviously if they are picked up, you are going to get them back.

“It’s usually not so much pet cats, although they get out there, but there’s a lot of strays and the feral cats. I thought it was a good idea to announce that on a given day that we are going to be putting these humane traps down on an area.”

He said should a pet that can be easily tracked to a home be trapped, it would be returned immediately.

Magnusson said he understood that the issue could be emotional.

“At the end of the day, we understand both sides,” he said. “There are people that love the animals and there are people that don’t want the animals around. My objective at the end of all of this is neighborhood harmony. That’s my overall objective, whether it deals with animals or not. It’s neighborhood harmony.”

Last month, the traps netted just two cats.

“It’s the stray cats that we’re hoping to take off the street and hopefully get adopted. That’s the end game,” Adams said.

Magnusson and Adams hope the new trapping emphasis will make people more responsible for their pets.

“As far as the city’s concerned, they need to be registered with the city every January. It’s a $5 registration fee,” Adams said. “North Carolina State Law requires that they be vaccinated for rabies, and when they get them registered, they need to have proof of their vaccination,” Adams said.

Magnusson said that residents should stop feeding stray cats.

“… What is happening is that they are bringing these stray cats into their neighborhood,” he said. “If they want to own them and take care of them, I say have at it. That’s great, but if you’re going to feed them and not take care of them, you’re setting up more of a problem than you realize.”

When the city does catch a stray cat, it will be kept a minimum of three days before the animal is taken to the Craven County shelter to be euthanized.

“The adoptable cats we keep for as long as we can,” Adams said. “If it’s a friendly cat and it’s happy and healthy and we can hold it and work with the rescue and it takes three months, I’d be willing to hold it as long as the cat’s happy, so we don’t have a time limit that we keep the adoptables.”

As of this week, the Havelock Animal Shelter had 16 cats, seven of which were kittens.

Adams said that those with pet cats should not let them outside where they could mingled with stray cats that may have diseases.

“They stay happier and healthier (indoors),” Adams said. “You don’t have to worry about the diseases. You don’t have to worry about the cat fighting and getting abscesses. You don’t have to worry about flea control or tick control. You don’t have to worry about it being hit by a car.

“I have five cats. They stay inside. They do not miss the outside. They have never been outside. If they ever got outside, they would absolutely freak out.”

For more information, contact Havelock Animal Control at 444-2712. A list of adoptable animals from Havelock Animal Control is available on its website at www.havelocknc.us/animal-services/.