ALIEF, TX - The fur is flying over Galveston's recent policy regarding stray cats and dogs. Get caught feeding feral felines (or canines) and you'll pay 200 bucks!
That's got a lot of people mad, including 22-year-old pet lover Seidi Beltran of Alief. She heard about the new ordinance on TV and right away, she did what people her age do-- hopped on the internet, not to whine or badmouth but to start a petition on Care2.com.
"I thought that was very unfair," she explains. "People just wanna help out these innocent animals that are on the streets. They didn't choose to be on the streets. It was irresponsible people to begin with."
Why does a woman in Alief care about the goings-on in Galveston? "It reminds me of... how SeaWorld gets a lot of negative feedback. SeaWorld is in California, Texas and Florida, and yet everyone around the world is saying how negative it is. And it's made an impact." She adds, "SeaWorld is changing their tactics, and it was (because of) people around the world. It wasn't just people in Texas, California and Florida."
More than 48,000 folks seem to agree. They have signed their names to Beltran's petition, asking Galveston City Council to reconsider the fines. Only a few of the signers are from Texas. Most are from elsewhere around the US and places like South Africa, the UK, India and the Netherlands.
Beltran hopes this will encourage Galveston to stop the fines and focus on what she herself does with abandoned pets in her own neighborhood-- TNR: trap, neuter and return them to the wild.
Funny thing, though, that is already in the ordinance, too. Kala McCain, the city of Galveston's public information officer, explains, "Our new ordinance does support the TNR program, so I'm happy to say this miscommunication (just shows) that we are doing what she wishes we are doing."
Not so fast, though. What about that $200 fine? "We want to deter individuals from creating a positive environment for these colonies to begin," says McCain.
But Beltran doesn't think it will work, "If they stop feeding strays, these strays aren't gonna just starve to death. They're gonna get even worse. And the dogs are gonna be wanting to attack cats, and cats are gonna be wanting to attack birds. And it's just gonna get outta hand."
Galveston residents seem to agree. Patty Lee, who lives a few blocks from Galveston City Hall, says, "If my grandmother is feeding stray cats cause she's just a good, nice old lady... she might not have $200 to get fined. She's just trying to be a nice person and feed a hungry cat."
Josh Rhone, 29, who has lived in Galveston all his life isn't as nice about the city's trying to run off the cats. "That's just crazy! I mean, like, where do they want the cats to go?! I mean, we live on an island. Cats don't swim."
McCain says Galveston city council is open to differing viewpoints and will consider them while they wrestle with this ongoing problem.