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The Suburbanite
  • Animal control officer accepts 90-day contract

  • The city of Canton will have an animal control officer for at least 90 more days. City Council approved a 90-day contract Monday night with Philip Sedlacko. In response to concerns expressed by animal advocates, council plans to explore other options.

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  • Philip Sedlacko has accepted a 90-day contract with the city to provide animal control services.
    Sedlacko had turned in a letter of resignation to the mayor’s office last week.
    However, Thomas Ream, the city’s safety director, said he had recommended Sedlacko wait until City Council took action on his contract before making a decision on his resignation plans.
    Council amended legislation Monday night, reducing the proposed contract with Sedlacko from one year to 90 days.
    Ream said Tuesday that Sedlacko is not resigning and has accepted the shortened contract, which Councilman Patrick Barton, D-7, said will provide council time to explore other options for handling feral and stray cats.
    At the last two council meetings, several animal advocates have criticized the city for its animal control program, noting that feral cats captured by Sedlacko are euthanized at the Stark County Humane Society.
    At Monday’s meeting, a few residents implored council to continue the animal control contract, saying the service is needed to handle complaints about skunks, feral cats and other animals.
    The city plans to explore other options, including establishing a Trap-Neuter-Return program, which proponents say is a more humane way to respond to cat-related complaints.
    Lou Criswell, director of the Stark County Humane Society, said that Sedlacko, a deputy dog warden for the Stark County Dog Warden’s Office, captured and brought in nearly 400 feral or stray cats and kittens in 2011.
    Criswell said that 21 of the cats or kittens were adopted; 11 are waiting to be adopted; two feral cats escaped; 35 felines, which were treated for upper respiratory problems and were highly contagious, didn’t respond to treatment and were euthanized; and the rest of the felines were euthanized because they were feral or had severe upper respiratory infections.
    “These aren’t owner’s animals,” Criswell said. “These are the ones that suffered (and were) outside on their own.”
    A staff veterinarian, veterinarian technician or other humane society staffer decides when cats are euthanized, he said, noting that evaluations are based on health, including whether the cat’s eyes are matted shut and have seepage.
    About 300 healthy cats are at the humane society daily, Criswell said, noting it’s critical that the sick felines do not spread illness to the other cats.