August 1, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
84°F
test

Animal group contends with feral cats near Second Street in Elyria

ELYRIA — As a local organization seeks to spay and neuter a large colony of feral cats, there are conflicting reports about the exact number of cats living near Second Street in Elyria.

Feral cat in the area of Second Street in Elyria.

Feral cat in the area of Second Street in Elyria.

Carrie Graham, of animal rescue organization PetResQ, is heading up the efforts for the cats living around Cedar and Second streets. After hearing of the problem two weekends ago, she and her partner, Becky Ayers, have begun organizing for a large-scale trap-neuter-return, or TNR, campaign in order to prevent the cats from breeding further.

“I went over to investigate at night, and there were cats everywhere,” Graham said.

She estimates the total number of cats to be up to 75. Convinced this was a serious issue for the community, Graham sought to trap and neuter the cats but found the task too big to handle on her own and is looking to reach out the community for support.

“We’re just a two-man rescue, and catching cats isn’t my area of expertise, so we’re a little bit desperate for live traps and monetary donations to be able to spay and neuter these cats.”

The cats in question have been seen primarily by the river bank behind Second Street.

Jeff Hogan, location manager of Busch Funeral Homes, whose property sits flush against a bank leading down to the river, said that this has been a problem since at least since 1996.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” Hogan said. “They’re all feral, and our flowerbox is like a litter (box) for them.”

Hogan reported that his next-door neighbor, David Stillwell, feeds the problem by feeding the cats.

“He’s a great guy and a great neighbor, but it’s just a problem for my business,” Hogan said.

Hogan said that the cats cross the property line and lay out in the parking lot of the funeral home. He was not able to identify how many cats were around the area, but believed 75 to be too high of a figure.

Neighbors at 100 Second St. also claim sightings of cats, rats and raccoons, among a host of other animals down by the riverside. Allen Winans, a resident at that address, claims that the cats are not a big problem in the neighborhood.

“They just stay in the yard,” Winans said. “And the guy feeds them because he feels bad for them. But there aren’t really that many of them around.”

Stillwell feeds a group of feral cats that live behind his property but maintains that the claim that there are up to 75 cats on the street is completely false.

“The reason that I feed the few cats that I do is because there’s a rat problem — which you always have, wherever you have a river,” Stillwell said. “There are seven cats that I feed, not 75.”

Stillwell also said he is not against PetResQ’s attempts at spaying and neutering the cats.

Graham has gone to the location twice after 9 p.m., when feral cats generally come out.

“Honestly, when I was over there, I saw about 30 to 35, and that was up in the parking lot area, where it was pretty obvious.” Graham also spotted a number of cats that she thought were not among the feral crowd, along the sidewalks near the houses on the block. Those cats, unlike the other cats, didn’t run away as she approached.

“We’ll be knocking on doors to make sure we don’t take somebody’s personal cat, of course,” said Graham.

“There will always be feral cats that you never ever see,” said Lorie Wilber of Partners With Paws of Lorain County Inc., who is working to connect PetResQ with local organizations and individuals willing to donate to the cause. “The number could range from 50 to 75, but the estimate I think is good.”

Graham believes that if nothing is done, a colony of 75 cats could double within a year.

If you are able to help out by loaning traps, making monetary donations or volunteering time or space for the trapped animals before they are taken to local vet clinics, you can contact Carrie Graham of PetResQ at (440) 320-2723 or email pet.resq@yahoo.com.

Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7243 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.