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Pet group founder calls Massena Supervisor’s comments inhumane

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MASSENA - Bea B. Schermerhorn agrees that there is a problem with feral cats in Massena but disagrees with Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who last week urged residents to stop feeding feral cats.

Mr. Gray said that because feral cats often spread disease and typically don’t live more than a few years, it’s best for residents to let these animals starve to death.

Ms. Schermerhorn, who founded Spay/Neuter/Now to prevent the spread of feral cats, called Mr. Gray’s stance on the issue inhumane.

“We respectfully totally disagree with Mr. Gray,” Ms. Schermerhorn said. “Letting these cats starve to death will not solve the problem. I don’t think we as human beings have a right to starve animals when we have a solution to the problem.”

Ms. Schermerhorn said the only way to solve the feral cat problem is to increase spaying and neutering.

Like Mr. Gray, Ms. Schermerhorn urged cat-owners to get their pets spayed or neutered and called those who don’t “irresponsible.”

However, when it comes to feral cats, Ms. Schermerhorn and Mr. Gray disagree.

Ms. Schermerhorn believes the best solution is to spay and neuter feral cats, preventing them from reproducing. SNN has a mobile clinic that offers low-cost spaying and neutering services to St. Lawrence County residents. For $50, SNN will offer the special cat package to one animal, which includes spaying or neutering; rabies and distemper vaccinations; examining and cleaning for ear mites; pain medications; and advantage treatments. Ms. Schermerhorn urged residents who have feral cats living in their barn or on their property to take advantage of SNN’s services.

“If you do nothing you’re going to have a disaster on your hands,” Ms. Schermerhorn said. “You’re going to have a bunch of sick cats in your barn.”

Ms. Schermerhorn added that when nothing is done, these cats often multiply and spread out into the community to find food.

Mr. Gray doesn’t see any point in providing care and treatment to feral cats with short life-spans.

“The question I have is you spay and neuter these cats and then what?” Mr. Gray asked. “We release them to starve, freeze, be eaten by predators or get disease and die? They have a measurable life.”

Ms. Schermerhorn acknowledged the high cost for those who might have dozens of feral cats on their property, but said those who can provide treatment for even a few animals are helping to solve the problem.

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” she said.

Ms. Schermerhorn also pointed out that SNN is a not-for-profit organization, and that $50 is a very low cost for the services they provide.

“For what we’re giving in our package, for $50, it’s the deal of the century,” Ms. Schermerhorn said.

To further help reduce the costs of spaying and neutering, SNN has partnered wth the St. Lawrence County SPCA to provide an additional $10 discount to those who take advantage of SNN’s special cat package. However, this deal does not apply to Massena residents, because the Massena Humane Society has its own program for spaying and neutering animals, Ms. Schermerhorn said.

Ms. Schermerhorn called the Massena Humane Society’s program to help low-income residents pay for spaying and neutering complicated, because it’s only offered to people who pay Massena taxes. She said this might creates issues for those living in surrounding communities, such as Louisville.

Ms. Schermerhorn wants various government, law enforcement, civil and humane society entities throughout Massena to sit down and discuss a plan to offer low-cost spaying and neutering services for Massena residents.

“Spay/Neuter/Now (SNN) has asked several times to come to a town board meeting and share with them solutions to this problem as well as answering any questions. We have never been taken up on our offer,” Ms. Schermerhorn wrote in a letter to the Daily Courier-Observer.

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