4-1 Vote: Antioch Bans Feeding of Feral Cats on Public Property

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The Antioch City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a ban on feeding feral cats on public property while also requiring permits on pet owners who exceed the number of pets allowed on a property.

Under the new ordinance, it is now unlawful to feed feral cats off one’s own property while it is also unlawful to keep more than 5-cats without a permit. For dogs, it’s unlawful to keep more than three without a permit.

The City of Antioch in a 4-1 vote in favor of the ban with Councilman Tony Tiscareno being the lone “no” vote.

The council argued that the ordinance does not ban the feeding of these cats, people can still feed them on private property or at their own homes—they simply cannot do it on public property.

The council listened to twenty people from the public speak about the proposed ordinance which a majority stating the council should not approve the feeding ban and allow a trap, neuter, and return to work (TNR Program).

Susan Smith says she spent several hours for TNR to hundreds of cats and encouraged the City to work with them on the program. She explained how we need to help our Rivertown cats. Says the feeding ban is wrong. She encourages feeding stations at appropriate times for a humane result.

Justine Charlie shared her concerns about letting animals starve in the street saying that is wrong.

“I understand this is a problem but letting them starve in the streets is not humane. We need to extend the time we keep cats and not dump them. We have to first ask how a cat became feral,” said Smith.

Barbara Sobalvarro (Friends of Animal Services) asked council to vote no on cat limit and feeding ban. She encouraged the council to give some time to work with rescue groups who have proven their interest and heart felt concern and untold personal sacrifice to help our city cats.  She explained how Antioch is already described as crime ridden and business unfriendly and did not want to see the words cruel and inhumane to the list.

Karen Kops (Homeless Animal Response Program) shared that TNR Programs do not work with a feeding ban. She also challenged the City cots on TNR saying that 104 Rivertown cats have been TNR at less than $500 thanks to 1,000 hours of community service. According to the city calculations, that would be $23,000. She asked for a 6-month trial period for the city and staff to work with rescue groups on TNR.

Mike Heckathorn explained how he was against this ordinance because its inhumane . Stated the city has bigger problems from “methheads” to “gang-guys” and that the problem was not a cat peeing on his shoes. Stated we are talking about cats, not solving the gang problem. Called the ordinance ridiculous on a certain level. Said this needs a lot more of a study.

Marla Ly stated the city crime rate has put Antioch on the map as 85 most dangerous in the country. She accused the council of wasting so much time on feral cats and number of pets versus the actual crime in the city. Shared she had never heard of feral cats mugging or killing someone and says the focus should be on “real crime” instead of attacking feral cats.

Meanwhile, several people spoke in favor of the ordinance including Nancy Fernandez.

“There is little doubt what needs to be done. They need to pass this ordinance and would like the council to ban vicious dogs. This City has become a giant cat box because of the good hearts of people but the cats are reproducing faster than we can care for them,” said Fernandez.

Lori Cook also spoke in favor of the ordinance.

“The cat problem is really bad and the smell is atrocious. “said Cook. “I see signs about animal cruelty but don’t see signs about cleaning up cat poop and cleaning up food. I believe you all know I go around the city and clean up garbage and I don’t see any signs or see them doing any of this. This concerns me. This is a problem. I clean up after my dogs. I am asking they clean up after the cats.”

Meanwhile, Marylou Wood explained the cats should not be punished, but the people dumping them should be held responsible.

“The people that dump the cats are the ones that should be punished. It’s them that did wrong, not the cats. They are the victims of this,” said Wood. “Yes they are reproducing, but the TNR is one way to humanely take care of the problem. If they don’t have the equipment to reproduce they won’t.  Its mean, its cruel, and pitiful and should not be done not to feed cats. Anybody with a soul can see not feeding them is wrong.”

Paul and Nancy Shore shared their support of the ordinance and stated TNR Programs have not shown to work and reduce the cap population because more cats are simply dropped off. Urged the counc

Lisa Kilk encouraged the police department to contact Sacramento because they have a program that works and shared that the staff report proves what they are doing has not worked.

“The Cat population is preventative, if you want to euthanize them that is fine, but starving them is inhumane,” said Kilk. “Work with volunteers on a TNR Program and what is the plan to deal with starving cats?”

Fred Hoskins stated the ordinance is not about anything other than feeding cats on public property.

“There is no band to feed cats at home. People can feed them at home. Go home and feed them all you want. Create cat sanctuaries at home. Forget the six months delay, this ordinance has to be taken care of now,” said Hoskins.

Council Discussion:

Councilman Tony Tiscareno stated after hearing the public comments he is still undecided because he is not a pet owner and sees both sides.

“I need to look at this from a logical standpoint and both parties understand there is a problem. One side says TNR Programs and through attrition we will see a decline. The other want to see this ban supported. I am still trying to determine in my mind how we are going to enforce these ordinances,” said Tiscareno. “The simple thing to do is ban it and then you are done but what happens to the organizations and the cats?  I want to be compassionate but I also appreciate those who want to maintain the integrity of the city in a clean city.”

He says he was open minded about a TNR program to see if it works and that if it doesn’t he would support putting the ban in place. He also expressed his desire to see if there is a cooperation with organizations on a TNR Program over a period of time.

“There has got to be a method to keep everyone productive and get things done. This is a tough decision,” said Tiscareno.

Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha shared the issue is a lack of ability to work within the city’s own system to come to a conclusion. Either we do a ban or work with organizations on TNR Programs.

“Feral cats started out as an idea of away from public property. We are not feeding them, someone else is. If we can find an area for TNR and a happy medium but that depends on community, volunteers, and our staff. No one wants to eliminate them completely by euthanization but we can’t have them roam all over public land,” said Rocha. “People have good hearts by feeding them, but they are causing a problem. At this point, I am not sure. I am undecided but I do want it away from public land away from where they are at now.”

Councilwoman Monica Wilson shared that she was also undecided and was torn because she has cats of her own.

“This is tricky and I have three cats of my own,” said Wilson. “We do have a feral cat problem and we have a problem and need to find the best solution. Is the ordinance the best solution? We don’t know.”

After hearing three councilmembers state they were “undecided” during the discussion, Councilman Gary Agopian called the council “gutless” by explaining the cats are wild animals without a natural predator to keep the natural order of events—meaning controlling the population.

“Nothing in this ordinance stops anyone from doing a TNR program.  They will not be able to do public feeding,” said Agopian. “If you work your network you can come up with solutions to mitigate this. One thing I noticed as a potential ordinance, there was a lot of people who became against it and starting work. Why weren’t we doing that before. “

After being interrupted by the audience, the councilman discussed respect of how he listened to 20-speakers and now it was time for council discussion and his turn to speak. After another interruption, he immediately moved to pass the ordinance which ended council discussion—Mayor Harper seconded.

Mary Rocha stated that the city has to get away from feeding them downtown but would like to amend the ordinance for staff to continue to work with the public on a designated area to try a TNR Program.

Tiscareno stated he could not cannot support the ordinance as written by staff because he wants to give the organizations a window of time to work to prevent public feeding.  He stated by going forward with the ordinance, he believed it would mean organizations and the city would not work with each other.

“It’s not that I don’t oppose the ban, I think the ban should be there if all solutions are exhausted. I am not trying to waiver or be gutless but we want to make sure we are doing this right and protecting not only our downtown area but have a method to eliminate some of these cats in a humanly way,” said Tiscareno.

After being asked to amend the ordinance as written for staff to work with organization on a solution, Agopian rejected the idea because the staff and organizations can still work on a solution to be brought back to council.

“I I don’t object to staff working with any of these groups on TNR Programs,” said Agopian. “I do object to changing the motion because it dilutes what we are doing. We don’t have the money or groups that are doing it all the time, then the cat population will get out of hand and be back at same problem. I would like to leave it as is and work with the groups that have interest on possible TNR opportunities that may exist. I want to get off the dime we are not fixing the problem. My motion stands.

The City Council voted 4-1 with Tiscareno being the lone no vote.

The Feeding of Free Roaming Abandoned and Feral Cats
The policy essentially says it is unlawful to feed feral cats off one’s own property. People are free to feed cats on private property with permission.

Highlights of the proposed Animal ordinance

  • It’s unlawful to keep more than 5-cats without a permit.
  • It’s unlawful to feed feral cats off one’s own property
  • It’s unlawful to allow a dog to bark unabated
  • It’s unlawful to keep a roster without a permit.
  • Redeeming impounded animals: Animals will now be micro-chipped before release to an owner and now will include a $22 fee.  For a second offense, the dog or cat must be spayed or neutered before release to an owner.
  • Multiple Pets or Kennel Permit: Animal Control will notify adjacent property owners and tenants within 300 feet of the applicant’s property. Adjacent property owners and tenants will now be given 10-days to provide Animal Control with any written/verbal comments regarding any animal nuisances. The applicant may now appeal the Animal Control Supervisors decision to deny a permit.  No more than 10-dogs are allowed.
  • Barking Dog: a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes noise for 30-60 minutes within a 24-hour period may be impounded by Animal Control.
  • Updated the Authority, Entry on Private Property, Procedures, Violations and Remedies for Animal Control and Antioch Police when going onto Private Property.
  • Keeping Animals & Bees
    • Number of dogs – unlawful to keep more than 3-dogs that are required to be licenses
    • Number of cats – It is unlawful for a person to keep more than 5-cats without a permit
    • Number of fowl – its unlawful for a person to keep or maintain more than 10 each of ducks, geese, chickens or other fowl. No person may keep a rooster without a permit under section 6-1.601.
    • Number of rabbits – no more than 10 domesticated rabbits may be kept on any parcel within the city.
    • Bees – Bees may only be kept in an agricultural or open space zoning district and with a permit from the Animal Control Supervisor.

Limits on the Number of Pets
At the January 12 meeting, the public spoke out against the idea of the proposed limit of pets in a home. Specifically, there were objections to the limit of 5 cats, 10 fowl, 10 rabbits, and 15 animals total. Staff has now reviewed those limitations and now recommends no overall limit on animals and that the limit on fowl and rabbits provide that a permit can be sought for more than that number, just like the limit on 3 dogs or 5 cats. Ultimately, there is a proposed “no restriction” on the number of pets, but with a permit process to allow additional pets, is a rational approach to protect the public health, welfare and safety of Antioch residents to protect animals from overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

Highlights of the proposed Animal ordinance

  • It’s unlawful to keep more than 5-cats without a permit.
  • It’s unlawful to feed feral cats off one’s own property
  • It’s unlawful to allow a dog to bark unabated
  • It’s unlawful to keep a roster without a permit.
  • Redeeming impounded animals: Animals will now be micro-chipped before release to an owner and now will include a $22 fee.  For a second offense, the dog or cat must be spayed or neutered before release to an owner.
  • Multiple Pets or Kennel Permit: Animal Control will notify adjacent property owners and tenants within 300 feet of the applicant’s property. Adjacent property owners and tenants will now be given 10-days to provide Animal Control with any written/verbal comments regarding any animal nuisances. The applicant may now appeal the Animal Control Supervisors decision to deny a permit.  No more than 10-dogs are allowed.
  • Barking Dog: a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes noise for 30-60 minutes within a 24-hour period may be impounded by Animal Control.
  • Updated the Authority, Entry on Private Property, Procedures, Violations and Remedies for Animal Control and Antioch Police when going onto Private Property.
  • Keeping Animals & Bees
    • Number of dogs – unlawful to keep more than 3-dogs that are required to be licenses
    • Number of cats – It is unlawful for a person to keep more than 5-cats without a permit
    • Number of fowl – its unlawful for a person to keep or maintain more than 10 each of ducks, geese, chickens or other fowl. No person may keep a rooster without a permit under section 6-1.601.
    • Number of rabbits – no more than 10 domesticated rabbits may be kept on any parcel within the city.
    • Bees – Bees may only be kept in an agricultural or open space zoning district and with a permit from the Animal Control Supervisor.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Shame on the Antioch City Council for voting on the ban and refusing to work with groups on a trap and release program. This is so inhumane it’s sickening. I thank Tony Tiscareno for having some compassion whereas others did not.

  2. Antioch has bigger crime problems than people feeding cats. Waste of money and waste of time. Go arrest the gang bangers, not people feeding cats.

  3. I applaud the City Council. Where were all these groups prior to the Council taking up the issue on TNR Programs? They were nowhere and now all of a sudden care? I say put the ban in place and let these groups work within the system and prove themselves before allowing a problem to continue. No one wants to smell poop and piss on a hot summer day in the downtown area.

    • Wow, I didn’t realize it is the citizens responsibility to fix the problem. Why do you think we have a CITY run shelter? Why do we have a mayor and city council? These animal groups have busted their butts in an effort to prevent the systematic starvation of animals that have most likely been abandoned by irresponsible and reprehensible owners. The city council wants to educate people on rabies and feces, why not educate (and punish) those who really contribute to the problem: cat owners that dump, not caring people that feed. Bravo to the compassionate souls that see this ordinance for what it really is.

      • I agree with you Frank S,

        The Crazy Cat People love to wallow in the filth of piss and poop. They only care about themselves and could care less about the health and sanitation for others.

    • Their has been TNR ongoing in the city of Antioch for years I was out trapping in the evening and was told by the police to go home that it was not safe so instead of smelling Poo and piss in the hot summer day in downtown beautiful Antioch you will now smell death death of starving cats, The cats will now get in the garbage becoming more of a nuisance. They should be focusing on crime and abandonment people who abandon their animals rather than focusing on starving cats!

  4. Controlling an animal population by starving them is disturbing to me. Shame on the Antioch City Council for moving this forward. There are other solutions available with time. What is the rush anyway? Why now? It concerns me that with all the issues the city is facing they are tackling cats. Unbelievable.

  5. The council did NOT refuse to work with anyone. The groups declined to discuss anything further at the last meetings.

    This was the rudest group I have seen in 12 years. So disrespectful.

    I know they aren’t done yet and will continue putting food out with great vigor and the rest of us will clean up after them. Meanwhile the city has stated they will clean up the public park near our home. However they first have to decide what to do with the cats.

  6. I felt bad for Gary Agopian who was sharing his thoughts after listening to a number of speakers. They interrupted him and were very disrespectful. The people in the room should have been thrown out. Such disrespect by crazy cat people. People are free to disagree, but talk about it instead of being rude.

    • I completely agree with you.

      It goes to show how crazy, illogical, and disrespectful the Crazy Cat People are. Gary Agopian is a person with integrity and fairness in my book. He never interrupted the Crazy Cat People, but the latter chose to do such a shameful thing. Such hypocrites!

      These Crazy Cat People will only have things their way and will not listen to anything else that does not abide by their cult like thinking.

      I’m so happy the Council voted for this ordinance. Heck, wasn’t it already voted in a prior council meeting?

      • Only one crazy here is you! All your comments ramble on all the time. Maybe the crazy one is the one that lets people like you hide behind the computer screen and run their mouths.

          • Actually no, that’s not what I’m doing! People that know me, know who I am. I’ve read posts of yours on other articles and I know you would never say some of the racist things you say to someone in person…coward!

  7. How do you think the cats got here? Because of people who don’t take responsibility for their pets. Antioch also has a problem with some of it’s residents who have the same attitude towards their kids or their property. The people complaining about cats being fed should try being one of the people who tirelessly feed, trap and care for them. It’s a shame the majority of the council members are so short sighted. Do you see many people volunteering to help create options for crime prevention? No. But here are good people spending their time and money on helping with a city “problem.” Pitiful statement by Antioch’s leaders on what’s important to the majority of residents,

    • “Do you see many volunteering to help create options for crime prevention?” Just over the last 20 years there have been thousands volunteering to help with crime prevention. There is a huge program called Neighborhood Watch and many more that came before them. You are picking a fight with the wrong people Mo and the rest of you. If reason prevailed the city would not have had to resort to this but now they have and I am proud of them.

  8. I guess my question/concern is: How is the city council planning on dealing with the current cat population and existing cat excrement? Are they going to pay city personnel to trap/euthanize the cats and clean up public areas or do they expect volunteers to do the trapping and clean up? The TNR program is not going to eliminate the existing cat population nor the excrement left behind.

  9. To , Agopian lost his cool. As a result, his motion looked more like punishment directed at the two or three people murmuring in back. If that’s how you want your political body to work, that’s your choice. But from the outside it looked pathetic.

    Make no mistake, some may in fact be “crazy cat people” but I would rather hold that title than guiltless executioner without the guts to be a part of a solution. L

    • Two or 3 people murmuring in back? I was right next to them and they were rude and yelling. over and over!

      I have lost all respect for Barbara and her gang. They have been asked over and over to meet and discuss and BE PART of the solution and they have refused.

      Mr Harper should have BANGED his gavel and cleared the room.

      • StaRVe defenseless cats. You mean that solution? Right…. Shame on Barbara and her “gang”.

        And by refusal, do you mean spending countless hours to spay/neuter/vaccinate these cats?

        And if I’m not mistaken, the part Agopian lost his cool at was when he misspoke and people in the audience yelled out to correct him. I dont condone rudeness (and the interruption was just that) but I was hardly impressed by his response either.

        • You wouldn’t be impressed by anthing short of .. “We the city of Antioch declare this city as the sanction for all cats. We must all do our part to put out food and feed them so that they multiply and claim this city at theirs. We are slaves to the mighty GOD CAT”

    • Your logic leads you to think that was a “punishment”? or “executioner”?

      What are you 12 years old?

      WOW. You got that title becuase you damn well deserve it, Crazy Cat People.

  10. Thank God the Crazy Cat People didn’t get their way to turn our city into huge pile of fur and feces.

    Thank God logical reasoning prevailed today!!!!!

    Wooohooo!!!! thank you city council for having the GUTS to get this done and finally over with.

  11. My parting thoughts are this: compromise happens when we meet in the middle. It takes a lot more than a few animal groups to create a viable solution for the entire city of Antioch. If this is a forum meant to discuss last nights events concerning this ordinance, then I feel justified in doing so. I don’t support this ban. I do support finding a humane way to address this problem. If that makes me a crazy cat person, so be it.

    • Amen to that! I know a lot of people that will continue to fight (and feed) for these poor animals.

    • The ordinance IS a humane way to address the problem. Compromise has been met.

      Not understanding that is where you Crazy Cat People fail.

        • I think the crazy one is you, LLAB.

          You fail to understand the language of the ordinance. You fail to grasp the concept of why it was passed.

          Hence, you and your Crazy Cat People failed.

          PERIOD.

          And to rub in the salt a little further…. Thank God you and your group were not allowed to turn this city into a huge pile fur and feces.

          Now I’m going to open a bottle of wine tonight and celebrate this victory, knowing everyday is a better day for humans instead of cats!

          =)

  12. Them cats can go to Oakley where they is welcome. Well least until Oakley sends em to the island.

  13. I’ve always enjoyed watching the cats in downtown Antioch before going to a play and during intermission. And while eating dinner or shopping. I’ve never noticed a smell or seen filth. In fact, the thoughts that go through my head while watching the cats are how wonderful it is that there are people dedicated to feeding them and taking care of them.

    I have lived in Antioch off and on since 1960. I will NEVER again give my business to any store/restaurant/play venue in downtown Antioch. I will NEVER again step foot in the Antioch Animal Shelter (I rescued 3 animals from there and have donated money).

    I attended the City Council Meeting last night and was shocked by how unprofessional one of the Council members was.

    The City just wants more money that’s why they are imposing a permit fee. Oh, I’m so glad I don’t live in Antioch anymore (and I hear that from a lot of people).

  14. I am glad you don’t either. I was there and all council members were very professional. Mr Agopian is always and will always be professional and a total gentleman.

  15. LLAB,

    Only racist person here is you. No one mentioned race and you had to do it.

    RACIST HYPOCRITE PIG.

    • Time for you to change your user name again! I recognize your style of writing from past posts. See you on the flip side 😉

    • Google your name?! Lets you read past comments you posted on this news site. Racist Hypocrite Pig…

      • Llab,

        Enjoy feeding the cats downtown you cyber bully.

        It’s against the law to feed them. Obey the law you dumbass.

        Like I said, Crazy Cat People, only care about themselves and their dumb cats.

        You’re a dumbass who can’t distinguish your rear end from your mouth.

        Feed them cats all you want. Don’t be pissed when the cops are called on you and receive I citation. I know I’ll be one of the ones calling.

        And by the way… This wine sure tastes great!

      • LLAB,

        Your failed logic and poor attempt of internet language astounds me. I will try to make the best comprehension:

        By “googling” my name: If you mean to do a search my by name on this website,
        I am flattered you would spend extra time to find my posts. I have many fans. I’m glad you’re one of them. I find it especially flattering to know you read my posts and am impacted by its greatness.

        By actually “googling”, as in to do an google internet engine search for my name: Again, I am truly flattered. But really, you don’t have to jump hoops to find more information about me. You can just ask, but for the record, I am a happily married man, LLAB. Sorry, I know you don’t like rejections but I just down “swing the other way” if that’s what you meant by catching me on the “flip side” LOL

        You strike me as a middle aged, technologically disabled moron. Someone who is trying to grasp the changes in society, lost because the traditional ways are gone. I know, it is a hard to understand, but there are many beginners classes for internet use available at local adult education schools.

        Again, YOU LOST. The ordinance makes illegal to feed cats. In a previous post you said that while I sip my wine you will go downtown to feed cats. Thanks for making an example of how the word “crazy” got into Crazy Cat People.

        Have fun breaking the law LLAB. I and many of my Antioch friends will be more an eager to call a cop to issue you a citation.

        … and by the way… This wine tastes even better after knowing how much you are hurt by the ordinance.

        Toodles

Comments are closed.