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The Suburbanite
  • Canton extends contract for animal control officer

  • Despite a wave of strong objections from the audience, City Council on Monday voted 9-2 to extend the animal-control services contract through 2013.

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  • Despite a wave of strong objections from the audience, City Council on Monday voted 9-2 to extend the animal-control services contract through 2013.
    Around a dozen people criticized the city’s animal control program and urged council members to implement an approach that would not result in the euthanasia of feral and stray cats and kittens.
    Voting against the contract extension of Philip Sedlacko, the city’s animal- control officer, were Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, D-at large, and Councilman Frank Morris, D-9.
    Prior to the vote, Cirelli said, “I’m ashamed of what’s going to happen here.”
    Councilman Edmond Mack, D-8, did not attend the meeting. Council President Allen Schulman said that Mack, an attorney, was out of town on legal business.
    ALLEY CAT ALLIES
    The city has contracted with Sedlacko for about three years. Sedlacko, a chief deputy dog warden for the Stark County Dog Warden’s Office, responds to complaints about feral and stray cats and wild animals, including raccoons and skunks.
    The contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2013, is for up to  $54,258.
    Animal advocates made impassioned pleas for council to oppose the contract extension and to explore an alternative known as Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
    “Does life mean that little to you that you (will) not postpone the vote?” said Steven Silver, of Canton.
    Two representatives of Alley Cat Allies, a Maryland-based group advocating the humane treatment of cats, attended the meeting and said the city’s animal-control practices are antiquated.
    Jeff Dorson, of Alley Cat Allies, said the city can utilize local volunteers to save money and operate a more humane program, referring to the group as “your army of good Samaritans.”
    HEATED MEETING
    A few times, audience members spoke out of turn while council was conducting the meeting, prompting Schulman to chide a woman for doing so and warning that such behavior would result in audience members having to leave the council chamber.
    The TNR program would trap, neuter and release feral and stray cats into the neighborhoods where they were found. Volunteers would make sure the cats are fed and vaccinated, according to animal advocates.
    Marcia Zawacky, of Canton, told council that the world is watching how the city handles the animal control issue.
    She also posed a question to council: “Do we really want to sell Canton as the killing capital of the world?”
    A council-initiated committee is expected to be formed to study TNR.
    A video of Sedlacko, in his job as a deputy dog warden for the Stark County Dog Warden’s Office, was posted on the Internet recently.
    In the few minutes of footage, filmed from a surveillance camera at the Stark County Dog Pound, Sedlacko put a tranquilized and bleeding dog in a cage and hosed it with water. The dog later died. Sedlacko had been responding to a resident’s complaint about an aggressive dog.
    Page 2 of 2 - Prior to voting, Morris, the Ward 9 councilman, said he believes the city needs an animal control officer. But “I personally don’t feel comfortable with this individual,” he said.