Home Seaside Heights & Seaside Park Government Seaside Heights Introduces New Regulations on Cats, Will Replace TNR Group

Seaside Heights Introduces New Regulations on Cats, Will Replace TNR Group

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Two feral cats lounge near Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. (Photo: Rachael Bowen)
Two feral cats lounge near Casino Pier in Seaside Heights. (Photo: Rachael Bowen)

Officials in Seaside Heights have introduced an ordinance that imposes new regulations on cat owners, restructures a program to reduce the borough’s feral cat population, and replaces a nonprofit feral cat management group with one that has government oversight.

The ordinance was introduced Wednesday at a meeting of the borough council. It will be up for a public hearing and second vote July 20. Nevertheless, supporters of the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Organization, which managed a trap-neuter-release program in the borough, voiced opposition to the move. The supporters, mainly from outside Seaside Heights, disagreed with numerous residents who called for action on the feral cat issue.

Feral cats in Seaside Heights have been managed in “colonies” by the TNR group, which has funded the trapping and neutering of feral cats for several years. Members of the group also maintain the colonies and feed the cats regularly, including those most visible in the boardwalk area. Residents, however, have complained that the feral cat population has increased, and volunteers with the group have maintained colonies in residential areas, leading to feral cat infestation in neighborhoods which has affected their quality of life.

A cat named "Big Red" by volunteers at Webster Avenue on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Ken Salerno)
A cat named “Big Red” by volunteers at Webster Avenue on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Ken Salerno)
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Under the introduced ordinance, owners of domesticated cats would have to register their felines with the borough. They would be banned from allowing “sexually intact” cats from roaming unsupervised or unleashed outdoors.

The borough’s animal control officer would replace the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Organization as the manager of the TNR program, which would continue in a different fashion under the plan. The animal control officer would report to the borough administrator, and an “animal coordinator” would report to the animal control officers. The coordinator could be an individual or a group, said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz.

“The authority of the Animal Coordinator is substantially less than the authority that was granted to the [Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Organization] in the existing ordinance,” Vaz said.

The mayor and council, said Vaz, “believes that it is improper for a governing body to delegate to a non-profit animal protection organization the governing body’s constitutional/statutory obligation and authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare.”

The ordinance preserved the TNR program but bans cat colonies from the boardwalk area, beach area and along the Boulevard. Feral cat colonies, under the new ordinance, would have to be registered with the borough and approved by the property owner where the colony would be maintained, as well as neighbors. The number of cats in each colony would be limited to 10 unless the animal control officer allows a larger number.

The new program will also promote adoption and building relationships with cat sanctuaries both in and out of state where the cats could be relocated.

“Is relocation here an option? Yes, but it is only a last resort,” said TNR supporter Nancy Scalzone.

Molly Armus, staff attorney for Alley Cat Allies, a Maryland-based group, also came to the meeting to support the TNR group.

Nothing really stops the cycle like neutering,” said Armus. “I understand that there are issues because this is a smaller town. We really hope you guys don’t move backwards.”

Specifically, Armus said, her organization is against registration requirements.

We have worked in many, many cities and towns across the country, and this always backfires,” she said. “People are afraid of giving their phones numbers and are afraid of harassment.”

Supporters of the group presented an online petition that garnered 12,700 signatures in support of the TNR group from as far away as Zimbabwe. Residents, however, implored the council to act to remedy what they called a quality of life issue.

Pete Carlino, of Sampson Avenue, said his street may as well be called “Cat Crap Alley.”

We are a beach community, we’re not a cat community,” said Carlino. “We were not founded on, ‘God bless cats.’ We just want to have a clean house, a clean place to go.”

Another resident said a cat died in a crawl space under his house, leading to an infestation of flies. Still another said he cannot use his outdoor furniture because so many cats are gathering on it since one of the colonies is maintained by a woman next door.

“The Seaside boardwalk cats are celebrities,” a supporter, however, told the council. “The TNR program is a great program and it does work. The eyes of the United States are on Seaside Heights.”

Borough resident Ray Nebus, however, said the local government needs to be concerned with its own residents.

I think you should be answering to your constituents, and not the 12,700 people from out of town,” he said.

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  • Peter James Smith

    The eyes of the United States are not on the Seaside Heights based on our couple hundred cats, the cats are not “celebrities”. Give me a break. The people who don’t live here should mind their own business. Move the cats to Zimbabwe if that’s whose opinion we value most. Rabel-rousing is no way to get your point across, nor is scare tactics or lies. The bottom line is that is a community of PEOPLE, not cats, and the people who live here overwhelmingly don’t want the cats in the mass quantities they have been kept. If you want a cat, adopt one and keep it confined in your house. It’s no life for a cat to live outside. PETA says the cats would be better off dead than to live under the system they have lived. It’s unfair to neighbors who don’t like cats. Why should they be subjected to them day after day, and the mess and smell?

    • Linda DeFrino

      Peter, these cats didn’t ask for this life, they were put there by your irresponsible neighbors. How do you think it started? People let their cats out and they were not sterilized. And really, are cats walking up and down the streets and defecating only in your yard? And the smell is from those who have not yet been sterilized. If the town would let TNR continue, the smell would cease. If they remove them, there will be more, count on it.

    • Peter James Smith

      Unless you live here, you should keep silent.

      • Emma

        Did anyone bother to ask how much more the new government run program will cost the taxpayers each year?

      • SuziSaul

        These cats are EVERYWHERE. Please don’t pretend this is an issue only for your town. There is a worldwide effort to help these cats.

    • Joanne Kaufman

      As Linda DeFrino articulately pointed out, community cats are the product of heartless people discarding their pets like trash and I see in your response a refusal to take responsibility for these cats just as people refused to take responsibility for homeless people before the 1930s. The vacuum effect has already been explained to you — more cats will move in to fill the void. PETA is not what it pretends to be and is an extremist organization with its own agenda. Compassion plus common sense dictate that the TNR program continue sad before. Do not support euthanization and demonstrate you have neither.

    • Emma

      Yes, the community of people. Which people are you referring to? The drug sellers, drug users and other criminals that fill the motels and rentals? Seaside Heights is already known as a dump and trapping and killing a few hundred cats isn’t going to make it smell any sweeter. You are right about PETA, they believe all dogs and cats that are stray or unwanted should be euthanized immediately. PETA doesn’t believe that animal shelters should exist either. It’s not exactly the kind of organization anyone should use for recommendations on humane animal care.

    • SuziSaul

      Funny that you don’t realize how many feral cat advocates there are IN THIS COUNTRY. They might not be able to protest your town’s actions in a meaningful way, but those of us who visit Seaside can STOP going there. In fact, my sister (in a different state) asked me which beach to go to this weekend. I told her, “Any but Seaside.”

      • Emma

        Peter James Smith is the president of the Seaside Heights Republican Club and his brother is a council member. Those are the people who came up with the ordinance to kill the cats. The whole town government is filled with nepotism, cronyism and double-dippers.

    • yanirew

      What difference does it make your town is a drug infested dump. Seaside Heights is gross.

    • Katwoman0108

      The statement that people who don’t live there should mind their own business is a bit ridiculous since Seaside is resort area in summer and thus lends itself to being a host community. Therefore my dear since it depends on those almighty tourist dollars It would behoove them to consider the opinions of those tourists it hosts!! I personally don’t want to be forced to deal with sharing a beach ( which I must pay to use) with cats that use it as a litter box (without paying I might add) I’ve seen the devastation of TNR programs first hand as I am neighbor to the ” director” mentioned in this article whom by the way lives 50 miles north of Seaside in New Brunswick NJ. – she ran a phony TNR program in the complex we live in there which was actually nothing more than cat hoarding. Numbers multiplied and did not decrease. Cats that she herself stated were adoptable were instead placed into her ever growing colonies to live lives of misery in all outdoor elements. The cats were left to prey on wildlife as we are along a wooded area of the Raritan River. The cats were even used as weapons to harass anyone who complained about her precious cats. She would lock them in crawl spaces in winter to do their business while the smell rose to the apartments above. They would scream and yowl all hours until she released them in the morning allowing the crawls to stay open so all our heat ( which we pay for) escaped. These were deliberate actions caught on webcam and admitted to afterward. Given this persons behavior she should NOT be directing anything involving animals. In my opinion she’s abused them not cared for them. It’s cruel to subject them to life outside when they can be adopted as she admitted she’s done. It’s cruelty to use animals to torment people as she also has admitted doing. I have her written admissions and also video admissions for anyone that wants to see it.

  • Kristin Laffey

    Cry a river Peter! Cats have lived outdoors as long as humans have been in existence and if they are taken care of and maintained, they are better off there than dead. PETA is a joke and an absolutely atrocitiy as is your lack of compassion and your fellow residents who want to rid Seaside of the cats. Guess what? That doesn’t work. More will come and more will breed, it’s a never ending cycle. What does work is TNR and responsible pet owners. Do you complain and get all bent out of shape over the amount of birds in your yard and the crap they leave behind? What about squirrels? Chipmunks? They all deserve a place on this earth and who are you or any other resident to say who stays and who goes? Just because they are a domesticated animal does not deem them unworthy. Get a life and worry about something a little more important than where these cats lay during the day or roam around.

  • Lorri McColgan

    typical not in my backyard NJ attitude….high rent district wants it all nice and shiny and the only thing they care about it their property values. This is a state that allows their towns to farm out their low income housing, they sure are not going to care about cats. I know I lived there for 45 years.

    • yanirew

      I would agree except that there is nothing nice and shiny about SH. It’s a drug infested yucky little town. Too bad the cats can’t be relocated to a better place.

  • Barbara Brennan

    “Cat crap alley”…. From observation, cats dig a hole, poo in that hole, and cover the entire affair with dirt,smelling the pile to make certain their scent does not escape.They fear dogs and other predators which,picking up their scent from the poo, track them down and kill them. Most likely the resident is living on Dog Crap Alley. But, of course, that’s an entirely different story.

    • RabbitEars

      Ridiculous. They don’t bury it in my yard. They just poop and go. They only “dig” to clean off their paws.

      • Emma

        Cats don’t dig to clean their paws. They also don’t poop and go. You’re thinking about dogs. According to you, the behavior of the cats in Seaside Heights is different from all other felines. Now, that’s truly a load of crap.

        • RabbitEars

          Every year there are piles of unburried cat poop under my next-door neighbor’s bush. And when they poop on my lawn and in my garden, they don’t bury it either. Just did some Googling on the subject, and it seems we’re both right. According to what I’ve read, most cats pooping close to home or in colonies bury it, while cats pooping away from their homes do not.

  • SuziSaul

    Seaside Heights officials have proved they are idiots.

  • SuziSaul

    By the way, if you’re having issues with animal smells, there is a seriously simple solution to that. You take your butt down to Home Depot, or just look at their websites, and order this…http://www.homedepot.com/p/Anti-Icky-Poo-128-oz-Unscented-Odor-Remover-AIP-UN-G/205959511?MERCH=REC-_-PIPHorizontal1_rr-_-205959510-_-205959511-_-N

  • Al

    If you push out the people who dedicate their lives to do this work and replace them with people who really are in doing something good, the problem will get worse. Resort area are notorious for stay and feral cat issues. It’s the result of people who have pets for their own pleasure but really could care less about making their members of their family. These innocent cats are just left behind. I would TWICE before pushing out these dedicated people

  • Eileen Crossman

    Boycott Seaside Heights!

  • Melanie Wang

    Take a look at the islands, US Virgin Islands, Islands in our beautiful state of Hawaii, Aruba, the list goes on and on with those beach resorts where both cats and dogs run the islands, their beaches, restaurant areas, all unspayed/unneutered. The proliferation in areas where people eat is horrific. And you people complain about the responsible, dedicated, TNR, volunteers who are trying to keep a massive problem of uneutered, uncared for, uninnoculated, animals at bay and under control, at their own cost and efforts? Get a grip people or go live in one of our country’s other places where cats and dogs, puppies and kittens, roam unfixed and sick with diseases and injuries. Then you will appreciate and be grateful for our hard, dedicated, efforts with TNR! The problem was/is caused by irresponsible people to begin with! I have no doubt and do believe people get unaltered cats to bring with them for their summer rental to keep rats and mice away. Then they leave without the cat which has not been fixed. AHoles! All of you!

  • MARLENE

    Boycott this town!

  • yanirew

    Well i guess I will no longer go there. I have have been to many seaside places around the world where the rats and mice are running around vacationers. They should leave the cats alone. I have better places to spend my money.

  • Hedda Martin

    Have these residents not heard of any natural deterrents to put near their furniture to make their area of the outdoors and yard undesirable to cats? I think they are wanting to just gather and kill. Sounds like some of the residents are the problem as they do not neuter/spay their pets. Here in the city of Grand rapids, Michigan, we have proven that a proper TNR program with proper full time residents that manage these TNR ferals works and works good.