Village split on ordinance that could ban free-roaming cats

SHOREWOOD HILLS (WKOW) -- Some residents in the Village of Shorewood Hills are worried about cats roaming through their neighborhood. Those neighbors are now wanting to do something about it, by passing an ordinance that would ban cats lingering around the village. But not everyone is in support of it.

"I see a cat maybe once every week or two," said Dan Danbeck, the owner of Louis the cat. 

He admits, Louis is the definition of a lap-cat but says he does let him outside from time to time. 

"As all cats do, once he had a small taste of outside, it was tough to reign him in," he added. 

Danbeck said he's only caught Louis out of his yard a couple times, and when he does, he's sure to go get him immediately. 

But having roaming cats around the neighborhood and village is worrisome to a couple residents like Michael Schuler and his wife Trina. 

"If they kill the birds on your property, or they leave fecal matter on your property, you really don't have any legal recourse in terms of stopping that behavior," Schuler said. 

Under the current ordinance, cat owners are in the clear to allow their cats outside as long as they have a bell on their collar. The bell is worn to alert birds before they are attacked by a cat who may be stalking them. But for the Schuler's, that doesn't go far enough in this Bird City. 

"To some extent (it's) hypocritical to not have an ordinance banning free ranging cats and yet to pretend we are actually protecting the wildlife in our village," Schuler said. 

It's why the village had an information meeting on Wednesday with a panel of animal experts. Neighbors were able to listen to how cats pose a risk to outdoor wildlife and how it could harm the cats themselves. 

Schuler admits, he's had a cat before himself. He just wants homeowners to be able to do something about a cat on their property when it's not supposed to be there. 

But cat owners like Danbeck doesn't think an ordinance is needed. Instead, he thinks there could be a better and less aggressive approach.

"I think education in my mind would be a better alternative to just alerting cat owners that cats can take birds frequently if you're not careful," he said. 

Now, the board trustees in the village will decide whether to take any action. 

In the meantime, Louis will continue to have fun both inside and out, along with his bell collar. 

"Hopefully, we wouldn't see the village constable patrolling and citing people for a cat that's gone beyond the boundary," said Danbeck.

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