More animals at large in Hannibal

The city of Hannibal is dealing with a problem that's multiplying every year.

Police say since 2003 the number of animals abandoned or running at large has put the animal shelter consistently at or over capacity.

Here is the latest example of how it can get out of control in a hurry.

After complaints from neighbors, officers discovered as many as 17 cats running loose around this home on the 800 block of Hayward Street.

There is a city ordinance which prohibits residents from keeping more than 5 dogs or cats at a time.

Animal control officers found one dead kitten on the porch and were able to catch six of the feral felines.

But as you can see by the video taken this morning...many cats are still on the loose in the neighborhood.

Animal Control crews will catch the rest using live traps.

This situation began with residents feeding one cat.

Police say residents' good intentions are making for stressful times at the local animal shelter.

Is this a growing problem?

Captain Jim Hark with the Hannibal Police Department said, "We're seeing the problem increase every year. One kitten turned into several litters of kittens and then came the problem we have now."

The problem of animals running loose in the city is getting worse. In fact before noon on Monday Animal Control brought six cats and three dogs to the shelter here at the Northeast Missouri Humane Society.

It's an all-too familiar scenario for Kurt Groenda, the shelter administrator.

Groenda said, "It's gotten to the point that it's almost horrendous, we're seeing cats and more cats and more cats coming in continually."

Groenda says most situations like this begin with residents taking pity on an animal and feeding it. Then the animal sticks around and reproduces. Many times abandoned homes house dozens of felines.

Groenda said, "One cat can turn into 30 cats in about a year."

And that's crowding the cages, and the budget at the humane society. More animals mean more dog and cat food and supplies like kitty litter. And with budget dollars extremely tight, its putting the hurts on the shelter.

Groenda said, "It's a struggle."

Groenda says the solution to the overpopulation is simple, if you see an animal running it in. And if you're a pet responsible and get your pets spayed or neutered. Captain Jim Hark with the Hannibal Police Department says anything else is just putting a band aid on the problem.

Capt. Hark said, "It doesn't matter how big the shelter is or the number of animal control officers you have, you'll be treating the symptoms of the problem."

Because of at-capacity animal population numbers locally, animals seized from the home on Hayward Street are being captured and cared for by the Missouri Humane Society and the Department of Agriculture.

The Northeast Missouri Humane society is holding its 12th annual fundraiser Bow-Wow Luau September 26 at the Mark Twain Cave Complex to help raise money for pet food and supplies.

Registration begins at 9:30am with Events and contests beginning at 10a.m. Demonstrations kick off at 11a.m.

The event features an exhibition by "Team Dog" of St. Louis.

For more information contact the Northeast Missouri Humane Society at 573-221-9222.