Anti-cat campaigner to head south

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 13:18 20/03/2014
Cats

IN COUNCIL'S SIGHTS: Two of the 37 cats at an Invercargill property at the centre of the issue.

Tim Shadbolt
TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.
Gareth Morgan
CAT CONTROL CAMPAIGNER: Gareth Morgan.
Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King
IT'S A TRAP: Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King with one of the traps the council is hiring out.

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The king of the anti-cat movement Gareth Morgan has been invited to visit Invercargill as the city wages war on an out-of-control cat house.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said it would be great to host Morgan to discuss cats, especially since council chief executive Richard King seemed to be his "understudy" these days.

"I would say they will be best mates from now on."

A city woman's property has 37 cats, which are upsetting neighbours.

Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King sparked outrage and attracted an onslaught of national media on Tuesday after suggesting the neighbours get rid of some of the cats by trapping them in council-provided traps and disposing of them.

"We don't make inquiries about what has happened , as long as it is returned," King said.

The SPCA fielded dozens of calls from people appalled by his comments.

SPCA Southland operations manager Richard Hay said the phone had been ringing nonstop with people wanting to know how to help the woman.

Some had offered money to help build an enclosure on the woman's property, and expressed their disgust at King's comments, he said.

The council is beginning court action against the woman, who has failed to comply with a bylaw stating she can have only three cats on her property.

King's controversial comments mirrored the views of philanthropist Morgan, an anti-cat campaigner, Shadbolt said.

"The trouble is with Richard I think he used the wrong word - traps immediately conjures up bloody rough gin traps in the outback. The word he should have used was cage," Shadbolt said.

"Poor old Richard King, he tries to keep out of trouble and he uses one word - trap - instead of cage, and he goes through torture."

King had just returned from a Local Government New Zealand conference at the weekend, where it seemed he was inspired by Morgan, who was speaking about cats, the mayor said.

Shadbolt said he now hoped to get Morgan down to Invercargill to speak to the council and maybe suggest some ideas to control cats in the city.

"I think we just invite Gareth Morgan to do a regional tour. Richard would have no trouble in persuading him."

Morgan said he would pounce at the opportunity to visit Invercargill and meet the two leaders.

"I am happy to come. I would be willing to lend a hand, absolutely," he said.

Morgan set up a website last year called Cats To Go, which states "that little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer".

However, Morgan said yesterday that he was more focused on eradicating stray cats and would like to see domesticated cats microchipped.

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He was supportive of councils taking control of cats, like they did with dogs, but conceded the bylaw the Invercargill council had was not working.

Morgan said he was visiting the south next month and would be more than happy to speak to the council. Shadbolt said he thought King would be thrilled to see Morgan.

"We would be happy to host him, I am sure Richard will be delighted to see his second cousin."

King could not be reached for comment,

Meanwhile, Invercargill City Council environmental health manager John Youngson met lawyers yesterday who advised the council it could prosecute the cat-owning woman under the bylaw and the Health Act.

Youngson said he still hoped the council would not have to take the woman to court and it could be resolved in the next couple of days, but court action was already proceeding.

"The moment we passed the file over the clock started ticking."

- The Southland Times

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