Law prevents woman from treating feral cats

TONAWANDA ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – Danielle Coogan raised nearly $10,000 for Operation Island Cats, an effort to control the overpopulation on Tonawanda Island. But for now the project has been put on hold.

Before Coogan, a stay-at-home-mom turned cat crusader, can continue, she must first change city law.

In just 10 days since News 4 aired a story about Operation Island Cats, nearly $10,000 has been raised for Coogan to trap and then spay or neuter the feral cats. She would also capture kittens and have them adopted.

“Our account has completely exploded out of control and I just couldn’t be more thankful,’ she said.

But right now, Operation Island Cats is on hold.

“City ordinances at this point prevent feeding, trapping, harboring comforting a stray or feral cat of any nature at this point,” Coogan explained.

North Tonawanda’s Mayor Robert Ortt told News 4 the law was designed to prevent people from hoarding cats. He admits it’s outdated and doesn’t allow for programs to control the population.

Niagara County SPCA Director Amy Lewis said, “It’s not really an enforceable ordinance so everyone is kind of under the belief that it shouldn’t be in place.”

Although the Niagara County SPCA is helping to change the law in North Tonawanda, they’re not working with Operation Island Cats.

“We don’t have the resources to do that and we do have our spay/neuter trailer and we are working on lots of projects aross the county, just because this case is highly publicized doesn’t mean this is the only one,” Lewis said.

Until Coogan’s project is completely legal, the cats she’s trying to help will have to wait.

“I was there last night and just over by some of the boats and I lost track after 30 cats. They’re just everywhere,” Coogan said.

A law that supports what Coogan is trying to do are already on the books in Buffalo. Mayor Ortt told News 4 changes should be coming to North Tonawanda soon.

Coogan says the money that has been raised will be waiting.

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