Fur flies in cat spat at Manatee's Trailer Estates community

Fur flies in Trailer Estates feline dispute

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 1, 2014 

MANATEE -- A colony of feral cats is causing a spat at Trailer Estates, where some residents are angry because they say the animals have become a nuisance.

"This has gotten so out of control," said Elizabeth Williams, who lives in the 1,277-home retirement community on Sarasota Bay, and has had to deal with cats in her yard because her neighbors are feeding them.

Williams, a retired snowbird from West Bloomfield, Mich., said she has to clean her patio walkway with bleach, since there's so much cat feces there.

Neighbors said they didn't know exactly how many cats were in the colony, estimating anywhere from 10 to 50. The animals disappear from sight during the day, but at night return when feeding time arrives, they said.

Manatee County officials, under a no-kill policy adopted in 2011, trap the animals, neuter or spay them, and then release them again where they were found.

Eventually, the colony will die out, but it might take awhile, said Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services.

It's among the tenets of the county's no-kill policy, one of the first of its kind in the state when it was approved in October 2011, and among a very few across the country.

The no-kill policy's purpose is to try to halt the killing of animals in its care under a formal resolution and plan approved by the county commission.

"The trap-neuter-and-return is key, and very important to the success of no kill, and I know what we're going to do. We'll meet with the board, officials of the Gulf Shore Animal League, trustees at Trailer Estates and others," said Weiskopf.

"I think we're going to find out what exactly we can do after we talk to the board," Weiskopf said of a meeting planned for Monday. "We want to see what their position is, and we can let them know what our position is."

Weiskopf said his main concern is making sure every cat being fed was sterilized so it could not re

produce.

Some residents say letting the colony die out won't be quick enough. They urged park trustees to get tough with those who are feeding the cats.

"The problem is, nobody wants to step up to the plate and do it," said Richard Ott, also a snowbird, who is from Portland, Ore., and lives near Williams on Marlin Lane. "The other night we pulled in our driveway, there were 25 cats there."

Another resident, Gary LeBoeuf, last month petitioned the Manatee County Commission asking it to stop returning the cats.

"Trailer Estates is experiencing an overpopulation of feral cats along with the bad odors of urine and feces found on many properties and the very possibility of hazards to the health of our seniors," the petition said. "Pets are only allowed in a very small section in the park, while the remaining area does not allow for pets, as per the park's regulation."

Williams and Ott live in a designated "no pet" area of the trailer park, they said.

"We're definitely trying to find a solution to it, and we need the county's help," said Jim McIlveen, a member of the retirement community's board of trustees.

Monday's meeting is slated at the retirement community offices at 1903 69th Ave. W.

In addition to county animal services and animal league representatives, Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, and members of Trailer Estates' board of trustees and their attorney are expected to attend, said McIlveen.

Another meeting is slated for Jan. 20, said DiSabatino, in whose district Trailer Estates is located.

"We're really in a Catch-22 here, hoping to work out and discover with their board what their plan of action will be," DiSabatino said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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