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Romigh urges town to begin licensing cats

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MASSENA — Two years ago, Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray suggested requiring cat owners to license their animals the same way dog owners are required to.

The idea, which went nowhere at that time, has resurfaced, this time at the urging of resident Charles B. Romigh.

“A good pet owner would license their cat,” he said. “I am not an animal hater, but what I am is pro-pet responsibility.”

Mr. Romigh, who lives on Monroe Parkway, said that for the past month he has been caring for a cat in his neighborhood that supposedly belongs to one of his neighbors.

“For the last month I’ve been feeding the most pitiful-looking animal you have ever looked at,” he said. “He was bleeding, his hair was falling out and you could count his ribs.”

Since that time, Mr. Romigh said, the cat has gained weight and some of its fur has grown back. He said he has spoken with the animal’s owners, but they tell him there’s nothing they can do as their cat likes to be outside.

Mr. Romigh, though, said he struggles to keep the cat from coming into his home.

“If I had a cat that I loved, I would be damned if I would let the neighbors across the street get all the pets and purrs,” he said. “I would welcome him into my home so my family could play with him.”

After speaking with Heidi J. Bradish at the Massena Humane Society, Mr. Romigh said, he stopped feeding the cat for two days. “I went 48 hours listening to him outside my back door looking for food.”

Mr. Romigh also said that with the increase in rabies cases in the region, it would make sense to require cat owners to get rabies vaccinations for their pets, the same way dog owners are required to.

“What would happen if a little girl got scratched?” he asked. “This is the time to take action. What if some little kid gets bit or scratched and ends up with rabies? Then it would be too late.”

Mr. Romigh said the town’s animals deserve better.

“We are human beings. Is this the way we want to treat the other creatures God put on this earth?” he asked. “I always say the way people treat their animals is probably the way they treat their kids.”

Mr. Romigh said he wasn’t looking for the board to take immediate action, but he was hoping for it to at least consider it.

“Talk it over amongst yourselves. I will be approaching the village board with it at their next meeting,” he said.

Mr. Gray recalled bringing the issue up two years ago.

“I once broached the issue of licensing cats, and I don’t think I ever got so many calls on anything,” he said, adding that he agreed with Mr. Romigh.

At that time Mr. Gray called the issue a matter of equality between cat owners and dog owners.

“It’s not fair that dog owners have to license their pets and cat owners don’t,” he said two years ago. “I don’t hate cats at all. Cats are kind of cool.”

Also agreeing with Mr. Romigh was at least one other member of the audience.

“I agree with him 100 percent,” Shalyn Frederick said. “If my dog went into someone else’s yard, I would get in trouble. It should be the same for cats.”

Mayor James F. Hidy stopped short of agreeing with Mr. Gray, saying he would have to look further into the issue before making a decision.

“I’m going to have to do a little more research to see if this is something that’s viable,” he said. “It might warrant some consideration.”

Mr. Hidy said he has heard complaints about feral cats in the Grove area, as well as the Homecroft area, where Mr. Romigh lives. “This is becoming a villagewide issue,” he said.

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