IOWA – Roger Rasmussen’s two cats were simply perched on window sills inside his home last week, quietly “sunning themselves,” he stated.
Apparently, the cats, named Jetney and Brownie, were maybe just a little bit too quiet.
A passer-by saw the cats and believed one of them was dead. That started a set of circumstances which resulted in what Rasmussen believes is his rights being “trampled on” by city employees.
The passer-by, apparently thinking the cats were somehow being abused, contacted the city. Animal Control Officer Pat Gansen went to the house located at 603 N. Massachusetts Ave. to investigate.
Rasmussen, who is a Marine Corps veteran who makes his living as a handyman, was not at home at the time and heard all about it from a neighbor.
However, soon after, he also heard about it from the city, in the form of a notice informing him he that he would need to provide proof of registration and vaccinations or be cited for violations of city code.
He claims he thinks the city went way beyond its scope and invaded his privacy. He does not know exactly who complained but said whoever it was had to be close to his house, on his property, to be able to see the cats in the window.
“The cats were not wandering around. They were inside my home,” explained Rasmussen. “I don’t like the idea of Pat Gansen looking in my windows. That’s a polite way of saying it.
“Apparently, cats are supposed to be registered. I didn’t know that. That’s just a profit-maker for the city. That’s all that is,” he went on to say.
“Those cats were on private property. The city came on private property to look in my windows. That should never have happened. Where are my rights in all of this? Does the city have no boundaries in what they can do?”
He said the city then gave him a deadline to show proof of registration and vaccinations.
“The way I see it, I have two choices — roll over and let the city have their way with me or give up my cats.”
Neighborhood Services Supervisor Pat Otto said Gansen was dispatched to Rasmussen’s home for a welfare check on a cat who was feared dead by the caller.
She explained Gansen went to the home and saw two cats in windows on either side of the door. The cats both reacted to seeing her and she knew both were all right, said Otto.
“Whenever animal control makes contact with a citizen, we check to see if the cats or dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccination and city license,” explained Otto.
When Gansen checked the database, that’s when she discovered the vaccination data and license were not up to date.
So she went back to his home and left a tag on the door, informing Rasmussen he needed to show proof of recent vaccination and also license.
“Those are required by ordinance and the ordinance does not distinguish between indoor and outdoor animals,” stated Otto.
She went on to say the cat registration ordinance has been on the books for at least 25 years. Persons cited for not having up-to-date vaccinations and license could actually face a fine of $50 to $65 plus court costs.
“I can’t say this strongly enough,” stated Otto. “We would not take his cats.”
She explained confirmed cases of rabies have been more prevalent in cats than in dogs in recent years.
“Since bats are the most common carriers, you can see how even inside cats could be infected,” she said.
“Since rabies can be fatal, it is always at the forefront of health concerns.”