Possible Cat-astrophe Averted – Article 45 Voted Down
The much talked about Cat Bylaw, Article 45, was shot down at last night's Town Meeting along with the vote to hire an animal control officer and to create guidelines for responsible pet ownership.
Inspired by arguments with her neighbors over an outdoor cat killing off neighborhood birds, Town Meeting last night had petitioner and presenter Lyda Lodynsky bring up three articles that dealt with controlling the pet and wildlife populations in Concord.
Lodynsky brought Articles 44, 45 and 46 before the town describing the articles as one package when she detailed, “these three articles are designed for the public good,” intended to remedy, “outdated procedures and antiquated language in our current laws.”
No Animal Controller Officer
Lodynsky's three articles began with Article 44 – Hiring of a Concord Animal Control Officer. Lodynsky noted that there needs to be a permanent person responsible for not just dogs (Concord has a part time Dog Officer) but also all wildlife. Lodynsky mentioned a possible partnership with Lexington for use of their animal shelter and facilities if the article passed. Lodynsky based the need for the full-time position on bylaws from Oxford, Belmont and other nearby Massachusetts towns.
After a brief debate, mainly focusing on where the money would come from as it wasn't specified in her article, Article 44 was voted down.
Cat Bylaw Fails Too
Article 45 was then examined. Lodynsky stated that the need for this law was to control not only the pet cat population, but also the feral cat population in town. Lodynsky showed a slide show of how cats had ravaged several birds and small animals in her yard and was afraid for the creature's safety saying, “this is my concern for those with no voice.” Lodynsky was firm in stating, “this is not a leash law, the media has sensationalized that.”
What the law did seek to do was have more strict licensing of cats, acquire them to get spayed or neutered to control their population unless given reason not to by a veterinarian, detailed impounding principals if a cat was trespassing on another resident's property and lastly, detailed fines if these previous laws were skirted.
Summing up Town Meeting's general feeling towards the bylaw, several residents said their piece against the issue. Peter Lee mentioned, “we need to solve this issue between neighbors and not by passing articles.”
John Flynn addressed the bylaw by saying, “I didn't know we had this big a problem with cats and do we want to be known as the first town in the country to move to ban cats?”
James Brown gave one of the final arguments against the bylaw when he said, “this kind of legislation hurts the Town and I don't want my tax dollars spent that way. We have a lot of laughs coming our way and I want to avoid that.”
Article 45 was voted on and failed.
Close to Passing Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership
The final of Lodynsky's three articles, Article 46, detailed guidelines for responsible pet ownership. The article described the resolution as, “an educational campaign endorsing Responsible Pet Ownership in Concord […] with the goals of creating guidelines for pet owners and neighbors living together in safety and harmony [...]”
After a brief debate that had a few residents coming to Lodynsky's defense that such a guideline would be helpful, while others described it as an unnecessary resolution, a vote was taken.
The vote was so close that tellers needed to do a standing recount. After the recount, more time was needed to tally the results. In the end, it was announced that it was a dead tie: 171 for and 171 against the resolution. Needing at least 51 percent of the vote for a resolution to pass, Article 46 also failed.