cat in garden

NASHUA — Although one city resident insists that city officials are trying to implement a leash law for cats, aldermen say they are only trying to clarify an existing ordinance and how it handles strays.

Last week, Gary Braun of Monza Road mailed out about 550 postcards to residents in Ward 3 claiming that a newly proposed Nashua ‘leash law’ could result in cats being seized without their owner’s knowledge, leading to them being impounded, given over to adoption or euthanasia.

This week, Alderwoman Patricia Klee, prime sponsor of the proposed amendment, said she has received threats from people telling her they know where she lives and that she owns two dogs.

“I don’t know if that is what the intent was, but it was cruel. I don’t think it was fair that these lies were spread,” said Klee of Braun’s lobbying.

Klee said that under no circumstance will a cat running at-large be picked up and euthanized without giving the cat’s owner the opportunity to retrieve the animal. This is not a new ordinance, but rather an amendment to an existing law, she said.

“One of the number one health concerns are stray cats. We need to keep this under control,” she said, explaining pet owners must be responsible for keeping their felines on their own property or within their control.

This week, the aldermanic Personnel and Administrative Affairs Committee supported the proposed amendment to the city’s ordinance concerning the impounding of dogs, cats, ferrets and chickens.

It states, in part, that the city’s Animal Control Officer may take into custody any dog, cat or ferret that is believed to be a stray, is off the premises of the owner and is either a nuisance or is suspected of being diseased or injured.

Braun argues this essentially creates a leash law for cats.

“They are independent creatures,” he said, adding he has no way to restrain his cats to his property since he does not have a fence and doesn’t want to use a shock collar on them.

Even though the proposal is not structured as a leash law and doesn’t require cats to be constrained on a leash, Braun said that would be the only practical way to keep his cats on his property.

“I think that is a burden and it is egregious,” he said.

The biggest issue he has with the proposed amendment to the ordinance is that it lacks a mechanism or process for the city to identify and notify the owners of pets taken into custody.

“I don’t see a significant public health or safety issue or crisis in this city from stray cats, or from nuisance cats, or from cats running off their property,” said Braun.

He recently sued the city and the mayor claiming the seizure of his cat in 2017 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Klee said that lawsuit is one of the reasons she is trying to clarify the existing ordinance. The full Board of Aldermen must still vote on the proposed amendment.