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May 28. 2013 9:27PM

‘We are not starving cats,’ Epping official says after vote to allow shelter, food

EPPING — Selectmen won’t be cutting off food, water and shelter for the 10 or so feral cats at the town’s recycling center.

“By no means does this board want to bring any ill will to the cats,” Selectman James McGeough said at a meeting Tuesday.

Two weeks after they voted to remove housing and end care for the cats, selectmen said they will allow a shelter and feeding stations to be placed behind a building at the recycling center.

A nonprofit volunteer group called Seacoast Area Feline Education and Rescue (SAFER) will be responsible for the feeding stations, according to Town Administrator Gregory Dodge.

“We are not starving cats,” Dodge said.

Volunteers have been allowed to feed the cats for years to supplement their natural diet of rodents found at the recycling center at 135 Old Hedding Road. However, selectmen have raised concerns from time to time about some people overfeeding the cats, as well as bringing blankets and a cat condo.

Selectman Karen Falcone has also complained about the smell.

Selectmen have faced harsh criticism since their vote to stop care for the cats. The move even led to an online petition urging the board to reverse its decision. As of Tuesday, 1,860 people from around the world had signed the petition.

“You know, if people want to feed and help the strays, they should be allowed to. We are not in Russia. Stop trying to be like their government,” wrote a woman from Nevada.

Steve Sprowl, humane agent for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham, said recently that if the town stopped allowing the cats to be fed, it could be considered animal cruelty under state law.

SAFER is working with the town to make sure the cats continue to receive care.

The group is the same one that came to town in 2008 and paid to have the cats spayed, neutered and vaccinated.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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