Cat lovers claw King over traps

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Mia Nelson presents a petition to Invercargill City Council regulatory services committee chairman Darren Ludlow.
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Poll A petition with more than 19,000 signatures from outraged cat-lovers has been presented to an Invercargill City Council committee, but the council boss at the centre of the controversy failed to show.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt's former executive assistant, Mia Nelson, presented the petition to regulatory services committee chairman Darren Ludlow at the meeting yesterday.

The petition was launched after council chief executive Richard King suggested neighbours of a woman with 37 cats pick up traps from the council to catch and then dispose of the felines.

One of King's comments that upset many people was that the council would not make inquiries about what happened, so long as the traps were returned.

King's comments outraged people across the world and angry remarks have been left on the online petition.

The petition demanded a public apology from King and for the council to make it clear to the public it was not supported and would not be tolerated.

"We also demand that King make a public apology and advise that neighbours should allow due legal process," Nelson said, referring to the fact the council is taking the cat owner to court to try to to get rid of most of her felines.

The petition says King needs to immediately retract and issue a statement that anybody who kills or injures cats will be held accountable and charged to the fullest extent of the law.

At the meeting yesterday, Nelson said she was disappointed King and Shadbolt had failed to show. Shadbolt missed the presentation because of lateness but heard Ludlow's comments on the council's position.

Ludlow labelled King's comments about the disposing of cats as careless and ill-considered.

He emphasised King's comments were not the views of the council and it did not condone animal cruelty. It also did not condone people taking the law into their own hands.

Council environmental health manager John Youngson said the file on the woman with 37 cats had been referred to the city solicitor.

Council staff were working with welfare organisations such as the SPCA to assist the cat owner to reduce cat numbers and avoid the need for court action.

 

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