Sandpoint council ponders cat ordinance

SANDPOINT — City officials are seeking a direction for the management of overcrowded pets.

Initially proposed in a Nov. 7 meeting, council members are expecting to examine an ordinance in the near future detailing the city’s approach toward the number of cats allowed in a home. While city code specifies that more than three dogs is considered a kennel and is not permitted within residential zones, there are no such regulations on cats. That has caused problems for some residents, who have found their gardens a popular destination for cats seeking a litter box.

Sandpoint resident Terry Lavallee initiated the discussion by contacting his neighbor, Councilwoman Carrie Logan, about the issue. He was concerned about the number of cats that frequented his neighborhood. According to his observations, about 15 of the animals visited his garden frequently, usually leaving unwanted mementos behind during their stay. However, he found there was little he could do about the issue. When he called city staff about the issue, he learned that there wasn’t anything to be done without some kind of ordinance in place. At the city’s suggestion, he tried contacting Panhandle Animal Shelter but learned they couldn’t accept cats due to being at maximum capacity.

Lavallee said the problem stemmed partly from city residents who feed cats but don’t take further responsibility for them. One meeting attendee who didn’t fit that profile was Claire Brouilland, who said she began feeding some of the cats and then had them vaccinated and neutered or spayed at her own expense. However, not everyone takes those kind of measures, and Lavallee said he’s seen many feral cats around the area that haven’t been spayed or neutered.

While council members noted that limited the number of cats in a household and requiring licensing for them was one option they could take, they also agreed it would be difficult to enforce. Nevertheless, they asked City Attorney Scot Campbell to look at how other cities approached the problem and draft an ordinance that fit Sandpoint’s situation.

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