A Georgetown man could have to pay a pretty stiff fine for feeding stray cats. Georgetown police say people who feed feral cats are causing a nuisance.
T his isn't as minor an infraction as you might think. Maintaining a public nuisance carries a fine of up to $1,000 or 30 days in jail.
C at lovers in Georgetown say if there's a feral cat problem, ticketing people who feed cats won't solve it.
O ne night last week, David Parks of Georgetown was feeding stray cats in a parking lot next to this store, when a city police officer gave him a ticket for maintaining a public nuisance.
P arks' attorney declined to speak to NewsChannel 15 on camera about it and city police aren't talking because Parks is fighting the charge and asking for a jury trial. But fellow cat lover Georgia Olker says she and others who feed the cats in Georgetown are trying to solve the stray cat problem by keeping them from running all over town.
She says she and others who feed the cats on a regular basis are actually doing the community a favor by keeping the cats together in colonies. She says she usually feeds about 11 or 12 feral cats in a spot near the Waccamaw River bridge on Highway 17 and 5 or 6 other cats nearby.
"Feeding them in an area that we call colonies keeps them in that colony, in that vicinity of where they eat. They're not going to travel to other places and cause problems," said Olker.
O lker rescues some of the cats so they can be adopted and those in her group have the cats spayed and neutered at their own expense.
S he says too many feral cats still end up being euthanized and that's not right.
"These are all god's creatures and they deserve better treatment than they're getting," said Olker.
A nother Georgetown County cat lover has a graveyard on her property for the strays who don't survive in the wild. Sandra Burgin says she understands some people see the cats as a nuisance and don't like where they gather. But she says if that's the case, the cats should be relocated rather than ticketing people who feed them.
"Throwing a ticket at them is not going to be the answer exactly. It's not. Getting them fixed and knowing they're being taken care of, that's gonna solve a whole lot," said Burgin.
B ut , on the police incident report on this case, police said there's a problem with feral cats in Georgetown and Parks had received a warning about feeding them.
H is court date is set for March 24th.
Do you think there should be a penalty for feeding feral cats? If so, what do you think the penalty should be? Do you have a feral cat problem in your community?