By Debra Moore
She came in seeking two Plumas County supervisors to serve on a committee and left with the assurance that county staff would be in touch.
She is Rose Buzzetta, the director of Friends of Plumas County Animals, and she wants help with county’s feral cat problem. She appeared before the board June 13 and shared a letter outlining a plan to deal with the exploding cat population. “My mine main purpose today is to have two board members come together to start putting a plan in motion,” she said. Buzzetta appeared before the board previously on May 9 and shared the overwhelming situation local animal rescues were facing to cope with the feral cat population.
She said that there are many TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs that save counties money. “The whole premise is that if these animals aren’t breeding, the colony will die off,” she said, and then the county won’t be left dealing with huge populations of cats. She said that a spay/neuter program exists for domestic cats and she would like one for the feral cats. She suggested that the county apply for grants to cover the costs. (The county has 245 spay/neuter coupons available for pet owners.)
District 3 Supervisor Tom McGowan asked about the county grant writer’s workload. “You are well aware of all the other priorities,” he said to Buzzetta.
County Administrative Officer Debra Lucero said the county is working on 15 grants involving the planning department and fire recovery.
“A lot of this problem has come as a result of the Dixie Fire,” Buzzetta responded. “A lot of the calls I get are from Greenville.”
McGowan said that was a good point and could qualify the county for more grant funding.
Lucero said that she would like to meet with Animal Control staff and get their numbers as well as those of the nonprofits, and that she would be the point of contact for the county.
Supervisor Greg Hagwood, who was chairing the meeting, said “I applaud the work that you and your staff have been doing, particularly since the Dixie Fire. We do have a responsibility to partner with you, and staff will be communicating with you. You are what I would consider a subject matter expert and we admittedly are not.”
Sheriff Todd Johns, who was in the audience, responded to some of Buzzetta’s comments about Animal Control, which is under his purview. He said he took exception to her statement that Animal Control had a “horrible reputation” in the county. “We have positive contacts and negative, but I don’t believe our reputation is horrible,” he said.
Additionally, Johns said he read her presentation, some of which pertained to mandating behavioral health services for individuals that don’t properly care for their cats. He said that better ordinances would give Animal Control a greater ability to deal with the situation.
Johns acknowledged that they have been very short staffed and “recognize that we need more help.” He said that Animal Control doesn’t have time to look for grants even though they would like to.
But he said his office did reach out to UC Davis (an entity that helped with animals during the Dixie Fire) but they are not willing to do TNR. “We were lucky to get them for the fire,” he said. Johns added that he liked some of Buzzetta’s ideas.
Moving forward, Buzzetta and the other volunteers will be working with Lucero’s office.