BETHLEHEM City asked to regulate strays
“A ginger cat called out to me one morning on my walk to work,” said Julie Vitale, tears never far from her eyes.
Vitale, a Bethlehem resident, was speaking Aug. 21 to Bethlehem City Council urging the city to adopt a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) policy. She was describing an incident that happened in Allentown, but was telling her story hoping that it would emphasize the plight of feral cats in Bethlehem.
“I had never had such a thing happen,” continued Vitale. “He came right over to me, and rubbed right up against my legs, purring. I sat down and he jumped right into my lap, happy for some attention. I wasn’t sure if he was someone’s pet. He had sniffles, a gash on his rear left leg, and was not neutered, all which led me to believe he was a stray, but his personality was so friendly, I was not sure. I did ask some neighbors, but no one knew him to be owned by anyone. I told myself that if he was owned by another family, he clearly wasn’t well cared for. I decided to rescue him, and if someone was looking for him, I would return him, but he needed immediate care.”
Fate intervened and Vitale didn’t rescue the friendly but lost cat.
“Someone walking a dog scared the ginger cat off. I did not want to call animal control, because I was afraid he would be killed. I was confident that I would be able to rescue him later that day, as friendly as he was. I came back at lunch, and after work, and later that evening, and never saw him. I went back the next morning, and still did not see him at all. I called around and discovered that he had already been picked up and euthanized.
“He was such a friendly cat; he probably jumped right into animal control’s van. He probably purred with the vet who killed him. I have nothing but regret that I did not do more to catch him that morning.”
After her presentation, she spoke with Bethlehem Police Chief Mark A. DiLuzio, who, according to Vitale, said he is likely to have all the signatures needed in the next week or so to start TNR.
Following Vitale’s humanizing and eloquent plea, Pastor Larry Vandever of Nazareth took a more critical approach.
“You guys call yourselves Christmas City. You can’t have Christmas City without Christ. You should call this place Xmas City. You have no knowledge of what Jesus Christ wants. It’s time you stopped putting your heads in the ground and do what’s proper.
“This little guy is dead because of what you guys are not doing.
“It’s time to start moving forward, guys and girls,” said Vandever. “We do it because Jesus Christ asks us to do it; every living creature deserves to live.”
As at previous meetings, he said he would provide the TNR service for free.
Dana Grubb complained about the current fireworks ordinance. “The state law is ill-conceived; no one thought beyond their noses. It’s just a tax grab. It’s the most idiotic piece of legislation to come out of Harrisburg.”
He said people need less exposure to fireworks. “Who the hell sets fire works off on Memorial Day?” he asked.
Councilman Michael Colon told Grubb that fireworks would be on the agenda of the next Public Safety Committee meeting.
Bill Scheirer challenged the Bethlehem Parking Authority’s wisdom in setting aside a special parking spot reserved for Uber and Lyft (taxi service companies) during MusikFest. He said he got a ticket for parking where he has been parking for 15 years. This time, according to Scheirer’s comments to council, he got a $30 ticket because the regular sign was covered with a temporary no parking sign designating the spot a drop-off and pick-up zone for Uber and Lyft.
Scheirer said that when he was a cab driver in Washington D.C. he didn’t have special zones to drop or pick up passengers.
“We should keep an eye on the Parking Authority, which seems to be getting steadily more aggressive.” Scheirer said.