A recent attack by a stray cat on a senior citizen in Payson North provides an opportunity to re-emphasize an obvious fact: Irresponsible humans are at the root of the area's stray and feral cat problem.
The Payson area is home to possibly thousands of wild, stray cats, local experts say. Many of them are not spayed or neutered, and were abandoned when their owners moved away, leaving the cats to fend for themselves.
Take some responsibility, people. These are living, breathing, warm-blooded creatures.
If you bring a pet into your home, do the right thing and have it spayed or neutered. Make sure your pet is immunized against rabies and other diseases.
Take advantage of the frequent opportunities to have your animals spayed or neutered at low-cost mobile clinics that come to Payson on a regular basis. Payson is also home to almost a dozen veterinarians.
Don't abandon your pets. Don't let your animals roam. Provide them with the basic necessities of water, food, shelter and companionship.
If there comes a time when you must leave and cannot take your pet with you, try to find a home for it or take it to the Payson Humane Society, where it can be placed for adoption.
Last year 600 cats had to be destroyed by your local shelter. It's a way of dealing with the problem that is not only inhumane, but expensive.
Unfortunately, it was the only alternative -- until now. Payson Friends of Ferals, a new organization affiliated with the Payson Humane Society, recently started using a humane method to reduce a population it estimates to be in the thousands.
The trap-neuter-return method the nonprofit organization employs allows feral cats to live out their lives while gradually reducing the size of the colony.
"We put (traps) in an area where we know there's a colony of feral cats, trap as many as we can, spay and neuter everybody and tip their ears (to identify cats that have been treated and returned)," founder Lisa Boyle said.
But bringing a long-festering problem under control is going to take time and money, and the support of the Rim Country's animal lovers is essential.
The group has a grant to start its work, but so far has only been able to afford the purchase of 11 traps. It needs 40 or more, at a cost of $60 apiece.
In addition, only one veterinarian -- Lorenzo Gonzales -- has agreed to give the group a price break on the necessary surgeries.
It's all about taking responsibility, and sometimes that means helping to address somebody else's lack of responsibility. That's what the good people who founded Payson Friends of Ferals are doing, and they need our support -- financial and otherwise.
Call to learn how you can help. The Payson Humane Society can be reached at (928) 474-5590, and Payson Friends of Ferals at (928) 468-1143 or (928) 474-1836.