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Some Gilbert residents resisting ordinance against feeding feral cats

Posted at 11:02 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 01:02:40-05

One Valley man was fined $100 for feeding feral cats.

The citation came after Gilbert passed an ordinance in May that made it "unlawful to feed, or place food for any wild or feral animal on town-owned property or a public right-of-way."

Tom Mischke said the takeover began gradually around his home.

"Slowly we started seeing cats."

Mischke said now feral felines haunt his home day and night.

"We counted like 32 cats in the backyard," he said. "The whole front of the house has cat pee stains."

Tom said his problems are because his neighbor feeds the cats on the next door property, which is legal.

What is not legal is feeding cats on town property or sidewalks.

Paul Rodriguez is the only person to be caught violating the ordinance and fined.

"I was putting some food out for seven homeless cats [when] I was stopped by two Gilbert police officers who proceeded to give me a ticket," said Rodriguez, who has been feeding feral cats for 13 years.

The $100 fine is hardly a deterrent for a guy who spends "approximately $500 a month" and at least three hours every night driving around town and leaving food and water for groups of strays.

"I would like the town to rescind the ordinance," said Rodriguez. "I am one of many people in Gilbert who is not going to stand by and let a helpless, innocent animal starve to death."

The town said the ordinance came as a response to citizen complaints. They said the purpose is to "prevent unsanitary and unsafe conditions."

Rodriguez said the food he provides is not the problem, it is the cats' rapid reproducing.

"It's okay to feed but you must also trap the cats. They must be spayed and neutered," he said.

Rodriguez said his feeding actually allows feral cats to be captured for 'fixing' and helps separate the spayed and neutered strays from the others.

A Gilbert spokesperson told ABC15 animal control is a county matter. This is the town's full statement:

"Gilbert’s ordinance was created in response to complaints from citizens who live near various Town owned properties where people were feeding feral animals.  The ordinance is focused on prohibiting the feeding of wild or feral animals on town property and public rights of way to prevent unsanitary and unsafe conditions, such as attracting vermin, insects, and wild animals in general (not just cats); fecal matter, food/bowls impeding pedestrian and vehicular traffic, etc., on property that is used by the general public.  The ordinance does not prohibit anyone from feeding feral animals on private property or implementing any TNR program or similar program. It is also not focused on animal control, which is a County matter. Since its implementation, one citation has been issued."