Stray cat problems
"I believe that traditionally, because we are a mostly rural state, cats were considered beneficial because they were getting rid of mice and other pests," Hutchinson said.
Swaim said DiRodio should approach Delegate Daryl Cowles and take her petition to the next level.
Hutchinson suggested that DiRodio coordinate with other counties because the petition would then carry more weight with the state legislature.
DiRodio asked commissioners if state laws requiring owners to vaccinate their cats for rabies could be enforced.
Stotler said he would have a conversation with Morgan County Sheriff Ron McIntire to see what it would take to enforce the rabies law.
Morgan County Sheriff
McIntire said deputies do what they can by transporting injured or sick cats that they come across while on patrol to a vet for treatment. He said that someone brought in an injured cat the other day and a deputy took the cat to the vet who treated the animal and turned it over to the Humane Society.
McIntire said that the Animal Warden does not handle cats. The county kennel is too small. In the case of a bite, the Humane Officer, Deputy T. J. Johnson will investigate and the health department will be notified.
Health Department Sanitarian Lee Fowler said that all doctors and hospitals are required to submit an Animal Encounter report to the department whenever they treat someone who has been bitten.
The Animal Warden is then notified and one of the two sanitarians at the Health Depart-ment will assist in the investigation and advise the owner and victim.
The sanitarian will check with the owner and the vet to determine if the animal's rabies shots are up to date. The animal will be quarantined for 10 days to see if rabies symptoms develop.
If the victim agrees, the owner is asked to quarantine the animal. If not, the Animal Warden will take charge of the animal and the quarantine.
In case the animal is not able to be captured, the sanitarian will advise the victim on their best course of action which may be to undergo a series of rabies shots.
"You should never go around picking up stray animals. It's simple, just leave them alone," Fowler cautions.
Trap, Neuter, and Return
"It is astronomical the number of offspring one or two strays can produce," Linda Pinieski of the Morgan County Humane Society said.
Pinieski estimates that 90% of the cats they have are strays that have either been abandoned or given up by an owner who no longer can, or wants to care for them.
When they are able, the Humane Society does accept stray cats, as long as they are healthy and have a good temperament. Pinieski explained that they are trying to limit the number of cats in the main trailer to 60 and in the smaller isolation unit to 20.
The Humane Society does not accept feral cats due to the risk of disease to both the other cats and volunteers, Pinieski said.
Funds are available from the Trap, Neuter and Return program to assist people who want to participate. But the burden is on you to arrange to trap the cat, take it to the vet to be spayed or neutered, and then return the animal back to where it was caught.
The Humane Society will help you arrange an appointment with a veterinarian, but will not keep the cat. The person trapping the cat is also responsible for feeding the cat.
The reason for trapping and neutering the cat is to keep the population down, Pinieski explains. If a group of cats live in your barn and they are trapped and neutered, they no longer can reproduce and by nature the group will drive other stray cats away.
Traps are available at the Humane Society and the Rock Shop in Berkeley Springs.
People who live in the county and want to participate in the program should call 258-5592. There is a form to be filled out to qualify for funding.
Those who live in Berkeley Springs should call Rock
Shop owner Maya Fredo at 258-6770.
No real solution
Until the state legislature passes laws for cats similar to those that control dogs, and provides funding to local municipalities and county commissions, there seems to be no real solution to the problem.
"I don't know of any county commission that is against controlling cats," Stotler said.
"Look at the code, we just don't have the authority to do anything," Hutchinson adds.