A representative, Teresa Chagrin, of the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has contacted The South Missourian News (SMN) and Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace after an article was published in the Nov. 13 issue of the SMN regarding how the situation with stray cats in the city was handled by city employees.
"I'm writing on behalf of PETA, the world's largest animal rights organization with more than 2 million members and supporters dedicated to the protection of animals," Chargrin said.
"We have been receiving calls and e-mails from concerned area residents who are deeply distressed over news reports that Mammoth Spring city workers have been shooting unwanted cats and dogs and drowning skunks. We share the callers' concerns for animals in the community and would like to help address animal related calls in a humane and legal manner," she said.
Chagrin offered Mayor Pace the opportunity for city workers and police officers in the city some ideas of how they could receive training on how to safely and effectively handle the animal situation.
"PETA may be able to help pay to send a designated city employee to a National Animal Control Association training and I am also offering hands-on training in Mammoth Spring, free of charge, which can be provided when I come to that area to visit my family. PETA is willing to assist with the establishment of a formal agreement between the city and a local veterinarian, to provide for certain emergency services if needed," she said.
Chagrin said in a telephone call Dec. 4 she has had no response from the mayor.
"We really do just want to help with the problem. If everyone will put their heads together we can find a solution to the problem," she said.
Pace said she did not intend to respond to PETA and the animal situation in the city is under control.
"Again, I was out of town when a lady in the city called city hall four times and complained about cats in her yard. She even talked to the police. She wanted something done about them. She is elderly and afraid she was going to fall because every time she went outside the cats were under her feet. At that time, we had a dog in our kennel and had no place to go with eight cats. Our city employees did kill the cats. If I had been here things may have been handled differently, but I wasn't and that's what was done," the mayor said.
"The lady that was feeding all these cats is a city council alderman. She knew the law. It took us (the council) six months to pass an ordinance dealing with unwanted animals in the city. We collected ordinances from cities similar in size to ours. The ordinance states all animals must be vaccinated, have collars and be kept in their own yards," she said.
Prior to passing the ordinance, the mayor said kids walking home from school had been bitten by dogs, and elderly people would have to carry sticks to ward off stray dogs when they were walking.
"We have had many complaints from city residents about cats and dogs getting in their trash, messing up their flower beds and leaving animal fur on their outside porch furniture. We have built an animal kennel that passes Humane Society inspections. Our city employees keep the kennels clean and the animals are fed and watered and well cared for. They have even treated dogs for the mange," she said.
If a stray animal is found in the city, their picture is posted at city hall for 10 days. "We make every attempt to find homes for these strays. We don't like to have to put them down. Sometimes, we can find homes for the unwanted dogs but it seems like no one wants a stray cat," she said.