LONG BRANCH: An ordinance adopted by the city council this week requires all cats to be licensed.
The ordinance, which was unanimously passed during the Jan. 24 Long Branch Council meeting, was designed to help manage feral cat colonies in the city and give animal control more options when dealing with the owners of the colonies.
If a colony were to become a nuisance, the ordinance helps the city identify an owner of a colony and holds them responsible for correcting the situation. Not addressing a situation can incur a penalty of $100.
The licensing fee is $3 for a spayed or neutered cat or $5 for one that has not been fixed. According to the ordinance, any cat that at least 7 months old and is "owned, kept, harbored or maintained" by a city resident during the course of a year for at least 10 days will now require a license.
The ordinance also puts a cap on the number of feral cats that can be kept in a colony at nine. This cap will go into effect in four years from the adoption of the ordinance and would only apply to feral cats, not indoor felines.
Some residents spoke out against the ordinance and said the city should consider the trap neuter and return (TNR) program. TNR is a program through which free-roaming cats are humanely trapped; sterilized and medically treated; and returned to the outdoor locations where they were found. Cats found suffering with terminal or untreatable illnesses or injuries are humanely euthanized.
"I'm opposed to the cat licensing portion of the ordinance," said city resident Susan Mazza. "Instead I ask that you implement a more manageable way of dealing with feral cat population. This method is trap, neuter and return. The goal of TNR is to reduce the feral cat population, which then reduces or eliminates nuisance complaints."
Mayor Adam Schneider said he has met with several residents about the TNR program and is willing to work with them to possibly implement it in the future.
Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli called the new ordinance "a start."
"I do think the ordinance needs some work," Celli said.