SIDNEY — Sidney City Council heard an update on the 2021 trap-neuter-return clinics Monday evening.
Kelli Ward, Shelby County deputy/dog warden, provided the annual update on the ongoing progress of the trap-neuter-return (TNR) clinics for feral cats, which just completed its sixth year of the program.
The Shelby County Animal Shelter, SCARF, and the city of Sidney has worked for the last six years with NOMAD’s Veterinarian Lauren Miller to reduce feral cat population. Ward said a grand total of 1,173 cats have been spayed, neutered or euthanized, due to poor health, within Shelby County during the entire program. The overall total expense after six years is $69,878.
Last year, they handled 260 cats, with 247 being spayed or neutered, Ward reported. Thirteen cats had to be euthanized, as these cats were too sick or badly injured for medical care to help.
Making a conservative estimate by averaging three kittens born per litter, she said over the course of the six year TNR period, 1,599 kitten births are estimated to have been prevented by spaying/neutering.
Property owners must call and give permission for the traps to be placed. The TNR clinic workers place cages with food and water in areas known to have feral cats running around. Captured cats are then taken to Miller, a mobile veterinarian who comes to town to help with the cats. They are first given a medical examination, spayed or neutered, given a rabies vaccination and then their ears are given a small tip so they can be recognized if they are ever recaptured. Volunteers then return the cats to the areas where they were captured.
Ward said after trapping feral cats over the weekend, starting on Friday, Monday was the TNR clinic of the year. When it is cold out, they don’t have as much success trapping cats, she said, so they opened the clinic up to the public to bring their own or stray cats in. Monday they treated 29 cats.
“Wherever we trap (the cats) from, they have to be released right back to that area,” Ward said when asked where the cats are released after the clinic. “The goal of releasing them back to that area is that we reduce the population from growing. If we were to remove them from that area, (other) cats just come in and the population just keeps growing.”
Mayor Mardie Milligan thanked Ward and her team for their hard work and encouraged them to keep it up. At the very end of the meeting, Vice Mayor Steve Wagner, who has worked with Ward and her team over the last six years on the TNR program, commended them for their work and Ward’s wise use of the funds the city of Sidney provides for the program. He noted that the city only provides a portion of the funds needed for the program; other money comes from SCARF.
In other business, City Council lifted the tabled ordinance for consideration of adoption of the newly revised Sidney Zoning Code. Council then postponed a final presentation of the final draft of the proposed zoning code for consideration of adoption until its Jan. 24 meeting.
City Council reviewed the final draft at its Jan. 3 workshop session to address questions council members had about the code’s revision that was presented at its Dec. 13 meeting. After some discussion, Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth was directed to make various changes to the draft and bring it back for further consideration for adoption at the Jan. 10 meeting.
Monday, Dulworth said the revisions discussed on Jan. 3 are still being incorporated into the Sidney Zoning Code by the city’s consultant, ZoneCo Inc., but could not be completed by Jan. 10. She asked for the postponement in order to ensure the code has been thoroughly reviewed prior to adoption, and recommended City Council reschedule the final presentation until Jan. 24.
The re-write of the zoning code began with an evaluation and calibration to the city of Sidney’s Comprehensive Plan; staff has worked with consultant ZoneCo to simplify and rewrite it since November 2019. Beginning in July, city staff presented a rough draft of revisions to the Planning Commission over three sessions to get final feedback. The final proposed zoning code was then presented to City Council in December.