Wausau At Impasse With Marathon County Board Over Stray Cats

County Says City Would Have To Pay $80K For Humane Society To Impound Strays

Stray cats are considered a public health hazard, as many of them are not vaccinated for rabies. Photo: TcnBiob (CC-BY)

Wausau is at an impasse with the Marathon County Humane Society over what to do with stray cats, as the city faces the prospect of dealing with a problem that the county won’t.

Last year the Marathon County Board decided it would continue to pay for the impoundment of stray dogs, but would stop paying for stray cats. That left the city of Wausau with the legal and financial responsibility to impound cats, since its own laws state that animals without rabies vaccination tags must be impounded.

The catch, according to Wausau alderman Jim Brezinski, is the $80,000 annual price tag for the service from the Humane Society.

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“The option that has been presented to us is to accept the contract that they’ve drafted and either take it or leave it,” said Brezinski. “It’s a sad state of affairs when we don’t enforce our own ordinance, and I think everybody on the council recognizes that this is a matter of public health and safety.”

Public safety is at risk, according to Humane Society Board President Linda Berna-Karger.

“These are animals that are typically not vaccinated,” said Berna-Karger. “They could bite a child that’s playing outside and sees this cute little kitty outside. Or they also include somebody’s lost pet.”

Berna-Karger said the contract’s $80,000 price is based on the number of people and the number of cats in Wausau.

“It takes into consideration the human population of that municipality, and then the past two year history of the number of stray cats brought in from that municipality,” said Berna-Karger.

Brezinski is hoping the city and humane society can resolve the impasse.