Support swells for stray cats funding

Support is gathering for a former Hamilton city councillor's suggestion city ratepayers pay an extra 85c a year to care for stray animals – if online comments are any indication.

Brian Farrell dumped a stray cat in the hands of deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman on Wednesday after failed attempts to drop it at the SPCA, council and Cats Protection League because they were full.

Mr Chesterman was unimpressed and labelled the "ambush" a media stunt as the Times sat in on the spirited meeting, which he eventually walked out of.

Mr Farrell wants the council to take more responsibility for stray animals and the city and has suggested 85c be added to each ratepayer's annual bill – an approximate $136,000 which could go to the SPCA.

Mr Chesterman told the Times yesterday he was waiting for Mr Farrell to email him his suggestion so he could put it forward for council consideration.

But most of the Times website and Facebook fans were all for the proposal.

Hamilton's Cherie Sheehan was steadfast in her opinion: "YES, YES, YES!," she wrote. "I think it's a great idea, the SPCA do a wonderful job and are always in need of cash. Think of the great things the SPCA and other organisations could have done with all the ratepayer money that was spent on the V8s."

On Facebook, Carein Chan said: "I think that 85c is a great idea, even a bit more for free/cheap desexing."

Robert Kete and Lore Swan also thought it was a good idea.

But David Doggart wasn't convinced: "Hang on a minute, dog owners have to register their dogs for this very reason so why not bring in cat registration – it's only fair. Rebates then if your cat is `fixed' and that sort of thing."

Liz Hunter, chief executive of the Waikato Animal Welfare Foundation, was unsurprisingly supportive of the idea.

"(Stray cats) are huge problem every year it gets incrementally worse. More so in the current economic climate when people can't afford to feed their cats ... 85c is very little."

Ms Hunter said Mr Farrell was "part of a big collective that tells the SPCA the same thing everyday. But it needs to get the backing of the community".

Mayor and SPCA chairperson Julie Hardaker could not be reached.

WHAT THE READERS THOUGHT

Les: "If you try and force ratepayers to pay for it in the current economic situation I think you will end up finding more dead than alive stray cats as people will destroy them to cut back on the economic burden."

Liz: "While I agree that 85c is not very much to ask per ratepayer, and I would happily pay that sum, suggesting that council add such a charge is tantamount to supporting a charity and would open the floodgates for many other equally deserving charities to be asking the same."

Realist: "Hit it over the head with a shovel, a quick and painless end to a miserable life experience."

Nicky: "I know 85c is barely noticeable on a rates account, but why should ratepayers have to contribute? So home owners have to pay, but renters don't?"

SuziQ: "Actually why not make it a $1 per household after all part of your rates goes to fund animal control why not the SPCA as well, in fact all councils could do this."

Sonic:"I would happily pay an extra 85c of rates a year. That is nothing to keep the little furries happy and safe." Josephine: "85 cents, that is such a small amount why would anyone not want to pay it?"

Sonn: "Everyone seems to want a companion but not the responsibility. Cats should be registered and collared."

Distant Star: "Good on Hamilton city councillor Gordon Chesterman for not taking the cat. It's not the council's problem and shouldn't become its problem."

Jen: "I would happily contribute 85 cents to help the SPCA desex more animals and work towards having fewer stray animals."

Liz Q:" Having known several cat rescue facilities I find it hard to imagine that nobody at all would take it."

J R Joyce: "Good idea. They don't have enough money and 85 cents per ratepayer is tiddly."

John: "I've thought for a long time how unfair it is to leave the stray cat problem to voluntary organisations."

Past Volunteer: "I think some kind of tax/levy donation to the SPCA and the pound would be a very good idea."

Waikato Times