ENID, Okla. —
Jerry Zaloudek likes to care for the dozens of stray cats that roam near her business.
Several times each year for the past three years, she brings in a veterinarian to spay or neuter them, check them for disease and vaccinate them against rabies. Because they aren’t her cats, she then releases them back into the wild.
The only problem is that a city of Enid ordinance technically prohibits this practice.
According to the ordinance, anyone who cares for a dog, ferret, potbellied pig — or a cat — must keep it in an enclosure or on a leash.
“It’s a real problem, but putting a cat on a leash is not going to solve this problem,” Zaloudek said.
The way she sees it, she has a responsibility to control the population.
“That’s what the spay and neuter program is. Cut down the population and stop the euthanasia of good animals,” she said.
With help from Vickie Grantz, shelter director for the Enid Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, she has contacted the city, hoping to modify the law to let her trap, fix then release the animals. She is waiting to hear back from city leaders on their thoughts.
Grantz said other metros in Oklahoma already have adopted this type of ordinance.
“We have people who are willing to step up and take care of that so they’re not reproducing, but they’re actually breaking an ordinance every time they fix one, vaccinate it and turn it out,” she said.
Zaloudek said city animal control officers have been out to see her several times because of the feral cat problem.
“The pound’s been out to see me several times when somebody turns me in. But I can’t keep all the cats in the store. They’ve been there since my store was there,” she said.
In the meantime, she does what she can to make sure they don’t reproduce.
In just the past year, Zaloudek says she’s spent $2,000 caring for the stray cats that show up near her business, JB Liquor, at 420 S. Cleveland. It’s not uncommon for her to see the cats, which can be numerous, be run over on the street.
“It’s just horrible. But if we can spay and neuter them, we can get this problem taken care of,” she said. “All we need to do is cut the population down here. But the only way we can do that is spay and neuter.”
Enid SPCA has a program that provides low-cost vaccinations and sterilization to households making less than $40,000 per year.
Grantz noted how unwieldy the law seems on its face. While it makes sense to keep a dog penned up behind a fence or on a leash, the same can’t be said for a cat.
“That’s the part that makes it unfair. And most cats don’t do very well on a leash, either,” she said. “But if we can control the numbers by spaying and neutering, I think we can see a difference. And we’ll also know that what we have out there is healthy.”