As the Mountain Home community pauses to celebrate Independence Day, it seems like a very odd time to highlight local issues. However, in light of the current situation we've seen, it seemed prudent to highlight the problem before it spirals hopelessly out of control.
The issue deals with pets, more specifically our love with cats. Normally, the city sees a regular problem with dogs after they get loose and wreak havoc in their neighborhood. Other times, it's the situation where a canine left chained up outside howls at all hours of the night simply because they crave attention from their owners.
But this time, the problem stems from cats -- a whole lot of them. The city has way too many running loose across Mountain Home. In some neighborhoods, they're too numerous to accurately count.
This is where the problem begins. In addition to the number of fights these felines get into, many of these family pets were never spayed or neutered. And when "nature takes over," the problem simply multiplies itself over and over again.
When left unchecked, these new generations of cats become feral. For those of us that have dealt with a wild cat that's never had any human contact, those encounters can get pretty nasty.
Let's not forget to factor in all the different diseases cats can contract, many of which are fatal to other felines. In the case of rabies, it can easily spread to people.
There's also the nuisance problem where cats get into other people's property. Case in point: At least one cat recently managed to get inside someone's very expensive boat that was parked in the driveway.
By the time the boat's owner discovered what had happened, it was already too late. The subsequent smell and mess added up to a very costly repair bill. We doubt the cat's owner was ever identified.
While we understand people's love of felines, sometimes it seems this passion clouds their judgement. We have situations in Mountain Home where this love becomes an obsession and spirals out of control.
Every year, we learn of a homeowner in this city that somehow managed to accumulate an alarming number of felines. The most recent number of cats living in one home in this city stands at 27.
It gives the term "obsession" a whole new meaning.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to provide adequate food, water, shelter and medical attention for these many animals. History has proven that most of them end up sick and contracting various disease, which then spread to the others.
So instead of someone wanting to help their feline friends, they end up doing far more harm than good.
While we know this will upset many animal lovers out there, there's no easy way to put this. The bigger the problem gets in this city, the greater the consequences.
Right now, the Mountain Home Animal Shelter is overwhelmed by the feline problem this year. In a given day, every one of their 31 designated kitty kennels are filled with wild cats or domesticated ones that were running loose.
When those kennel spaces run out, the shelter runs out of options. Depending on their age and health, many of these cats will face euthanasia -- the animal shelter's very last resort.
In one day alone, the number of cats that were euthanized after kennel space ran out was seven.
Here's the bottom line: City ordinance prohibits people from owning more than three cats or dogs (or a combination or both) without a kennel license. Owners are also required to have these pets registered with the city every year.
In addition, cats are required to remain within the boundaries of their owner's yard. Once they step beyond that point, the owner faces at least one citation. After a while, those fines and legal fees add up.
We're just hoping people get the message and do the right thing. However, based on the current situation, we're doubtful it'll have any immediate results.
-- Brian S. Orban