Animal lovers are up in arms in Yukon since the city just updated its animal ordinance for the first time in 22 years.
The Yukon City Council says the ordinance will help cut down on feral animals roaming the city, destroying people's property. But feral cat lovers say the rules are unfair and unclear.
For years, Jody Harlan of the Oklahoma Pet Rescue Network has fed and taken in feral cats in Yukon. She's not in favor of the city's ordinance No. 1287, which would stop people from feeding feral animals.
"When I saw that, I was pretty upset because I have a commitment to these cats. They're not wild like a possum or raccoon. They depend on me and my other friends who do the same thing," said Harlan. "The volunteers who do this, do this at their own expense so we feel like we're helping the city."
The city says the new rules would protect residents from feral animals that are unsafe and destroy property.
"The situation that we had was they were surreptitiously dumping cat food just any place that they could find feral cats in this particular place," said Yukon City Manager Grayson Bottom. "And they certainly were destructive to the property tearing up all kinds of flower beds and fences, they are wild and some could have a disease."
The ordinance allows people to feed feral animals only on property where they have permission. Anyone caught breaking the law repeatedly could be fined up to $500 with a mandatory court appearance.
"It's just a situation that needed to be brought under control," said Grayson. "And they're upset about that. I'm sorry they're upset, but the city manager is charged with upholding the laws of the city, and that's what I intend to do."
The city has met with feral cat supporters before even drafting the ordinance. Harlan and a group of more than 30 feral cat lovers say they just want a successful trap-neuter-return program included in the law.
"I think some parts of the ordinance are great and help stop animal cruelty, and we've tried talking to city council members before, but seems like none of our suggestions were considered," said Harlan. "Because the real problem's not the cats, it's not the volunteers who want to trap and neuter them and feed them at our expense, it's irresponsible people."
Yukon City Council meets on Tuesday when they'll consider approving rules and regulations governing Feral Cat Communities.