Three cats have been brought in in three days to the St. Paul Animal Shelter as a result of Town of St. Paul residents trapping stray animals.
According to shelter manager Erin Smereka, the shelter is partnering with Municipal Enforcement to care for animals who are found at large within St. Paul.
“The cats are held for 72-hours to make sure that they are not sick or injured. And then we have to hold them while we wait and hope we find their humans,” said Smereka.
Of the three cats recently brought into the shelter, one has already been reunited with his owner thanks to Facebook. Smereka said she routinely posts to the shelter’s Facebook page about the animals which are in their care and they try to respond quickly when someone suggests it might belong to someone already.
If they are able to connect with the owner, she said they make arrangements to come in and pick up the wayward pets.
“We need valid ID and proof of ownership because we don’t want people just snatching up other people’s pets,” said Smereka.
She said they’ve been accepting family photos of people with their pets, but the best thing to do is to have the animal licensed with the town or microchipped by the vet.
“It just makes it so much easier if they do have a license tag on them because it takes a day or a couple hours to track down the owner,” said Smereka.
Licenses for cats are available through the Town of St. Paul Office for $20 per year for an unfixed animal, $10 per year if the cat is fixed, or a one-time fee of $35 for the cat’s lifetime if it has been spayed or neutered.
Dog licenses are $20 per year for unfixed animals and $10 per year for fixed.
The St. Paul Animal Shelter has room for up to 13 cats and 11 dogs. According to Smereka, right now they have nine cats and two dogs in care at the shelter.
According to Town of St. Paul community peace officer Kirsten Veinot, there’s been an increase in the number of people calling with concerns about stray cats this spring. She said it’s something they do hear about on a fairly regular basis and not an issue unique to St. Paul.
“This time of year it’s typical to get stray animal calls because it’s starting to thaw and they’re all starting to get a little bit more active,” said Veinot.
She said one thing people don’t always realize is that a lot of the ‘strays’ are actually house pets allowed to roam free.
“People just let their cats roam and then they end up reproducing and then those cats end up being strays and then it’s just a vicious cycle,” said Veinot.
She said aside from not being the food and water source for stray cats, there are not a lot people can do to deter them from coming around.
“The biggest thing that we’d like people know is if you have a cat it has to be on your property. Our cat bylaw doesn’t permit cats to roam around town. So they have to remain on your property at all times,” said Veinot.
She said cats are also required to be licensed with the town, but a lot of the stray cat population is people’s pets wandering free.
“It is a violation and it potentially is a fine, but we’d like to educate first. That’s the whole goal. There was one cat that was claimed this week. When it was caught it didn’t have any noticeable identification on at the time so we took it to the shelter and they had to pay their fees to get out,” said Veinot.
According to the fees schedule for Municipal Enforcement, offences under the cat bylaw start at $50 for a first offence. According to Smereka, the fee to retrieve your pet from the animal shelter is $90.
“It basically covers that 72-hour hold while we’re looking for their owners. We’re feeding them and taking care of them for that time. If their owners aren’t found, that $90 fee would go towards the vet bill and all that stuff,” said Smereka.
The Town of St. Paul does have five animal traps which can be rented from March 15 through October 15 each year. Arrangements to rent the traps are made through the town office and Municipal Enforcement with a $50 refundable deposit required. According to Veinot, if a cat gets trapped that does have identification “we like to give them a free ride home and talk to the owners before they go to the shelter.”
The other concern Veinot said Municipal Enforcement has been hearing about a lot recently is complaints about people needing to pick up after their dogs.
“That’s pretty typical for this time of year. People kind of are waiting for it to thaw out as much as possible before cleaning it up,” she said.
With the spring weather, some yards are starting to smell from the poop that accumulated over the winter months.