CHARLEROI – Borough council is partnering with the animal resource community to help homeless cats stay healthy and improve their quality of life.

At the council’s monthly meeting Wednesday, Dr. Faith Bjalobok announced the launch of the Charleroi Colony Cat Project — a new program that will provide a variety of services for cats living in colonies, as well as stray and homeless cats roaming around the borough.

“The homeless cat population is becoming a serious problem in Washington County, particularly in places where residents have cat colonies,” said Bjalobok, assistant professor of legal ethics at Duquesne University and an animal rights advocate. “Through the Charleroi Colony Cat Project, we hope to cut down on the homeless cat population and keep many stray cats safe and healthy.”

Bjalobok said volunteers will trap stray cats and transport them to Allegheny Animal Friends, where they will be spayed and neutered. The cats will also get rabies shots and their ears will be “tipped” to signify that they have been spayed, neutered and vaccinated.

Cats will then be returned to established neighborhood cat colonies. Borough officials are also looking into establishing a cat colony at a local farm.

Bjalobok also asked council to consider enacting an ordinance geared for cats. According to Bjalobok, many municipalities have ordinances that include provisions for mandatory spaying and neutering, prohibitions on cats running loose and vaccinations. Council members asked Bjalobok to provide sample ordinances that the borough can modify to meet its needs.

Councilwoman Nancy Ellis said people who maintain cat colonies on their property must be mindful of their responsibilities.

“There is more to caring for stray cats than just providing them with food and water,” she said. “You have to make sure those cats have been spayed, neutered and vaccinated. Also, it’s illegal to dump cats off at other locations. We must get to the root off this problem. Hopefully this program will help us to take better care of community cats.”

To help raise money for the project, the borough will host “Kitty Palooza”—a celebrity bartender charity event that will be held on July 31, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at The Tap Factory in Monongahela. Bartenders will include Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, Col. Robert Vaughan, borough solicitor Steve Toprani and Charleroi Councilman Mark Alterici. The event will benefit programs for colony cats in Charleroi.

In other business, the council:

n Postponed requesting bids for garbage collection. Council President Jerry Jericho said the borough has received many complaints about the current provider. “We will weigh our options and decide if and when we will move forward to find a new sanitation provider,” he said.

n Agreed to work with Mackin Engineering and the Mon Valley Alliance to submit a grant proposal to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to make improvements to Second Street Park.

n Authorized Toprani and Mackin Engineering to look for grant money to make repairs on 13th Street.

n Agreed to print a new map pamphlet for the borough.

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