BARBERTON: More than 20 people showed up in opposition of a law passed unanimously at Barberton’s City Council meeting Monday night that prohibits the feeding of stray and wild animals at night in open or enclosed areas.
The nuisance-prevention ordinance has been in the works since Sept. 4 and comes in the wake of complaints from Barberton residents regarding odors and unsanitary conditions. Under the new law, residents can feed stray animals during daylight hours, but food must be removed before dark. Violations will result in a $50 fine.
“Feeding bans do not work,” said Louisville resident Toby Franks. “[Animals] do not disappear just because people can no longer legally feed them.”
Franks said he is worried this could open a Pandora’s box to more restrictions on animals. Several residents capture stray cats, neuter and then release them back into the wild. With this law, Franks said, those residents will be unable to do such, which could lead to the reproduction of more cats.
Barberton resident Nancy Somerick, along with several others, has worked vigilantly against the ordinance during the past several months. Somerick believes council is moving too quickly to pass the law.
“You people are being paid,” Somerick said. “You should have taken as long as necessary to answer our questions, to provide the explanations. We still don’t have that, and I think that is really sad for our community residents.”
She said the situation should be used as an educational opportunity rather than a punitive one.
Other concerns discussed Monday include trespassing by law enforcement to check for food left out, the cost to enforce and maintain the ordinance and cruelty to animals. Bird feeders, squirrel feeders, vegetable gardens and fish-stocked ponds were also addressed as sources of food for strays and wild animals that are not included in the ordinance.
Barberton resident Jerry Fox supports the ordinance and wants cats and dogs off his property. He said the law needs some refinements but to him, “you have to start somewhere.”
Council member Craig Megyes stressed concerns about wild animals harming pets, adding that many residents he’s spoken with support the law. Council member Terry Avant commended his fellow members, specifically council member Carol Frey for taking the load of the process of several meetings, readings of the ordinance and “a lot of abuse.
“I believe it should be a total ban on outdoor feeding,” Avant said amidst groans from the audience. “We’re just trying to protect people from the wild animals that do come in from the outskirts of town. We have to respond to everybody, not just a loud minority.”