Is "fecal matter" a less objectionable phrase than the word "crap" when complaining about feral cats during a public meeting?
When Emmaus resident Sherry Meck started talking about the unresolved issue of cats allowed to roam free in the community, a member of council quickly interrupted her at Monday night's borough council meeting.
"Emmaus has a dirty little secret," began Meck. "That is, it's full of crap."
"Excuse me," said council member Brian Holtzhafer. "I don't appreciate the language at all."
Said Meck: "I didn't want to use any derogatory words."
Said Holtzhafer: "I consider that word derogatory."
Responded Meck: "Well, then it's full of fecal matter. Okay?"
Holtzhafer expressed no further objection.
Meck said one reason for her unflattering characterization is the goose droppings in Furnace Dam Park, an issue borough council took action on later in its meeting. "You can't even walk," she said. "People cannot enjoy the park."
But her main complaint was about feral cats.
"They're leaving their fecal matter in my yard and my neighbor's yard." said Meck.
She argued that Emmaus is failing to enforce its own animal control laws regarding cats.
She accused the borough of having a double standard, saying she would be fined if she did not pick up after her two dogs, "which I do every single time."
Meck said her two dogs "poop" about twice a day, adding: "I hope that word does not offend you."
Doing the math, she said that amounts to 1,456 piles of poop a year.
"We have more than 30 feral cats in our neighborhood," she said. "But if you take that average, times 30 cats, that's 21,840 piles of poop per year."
Meck, who lives in the 1100 block of W. Broad Street, claimed seven colonies of feral cats are in Emmaus. "It's not just in our neighborhood." She said one is near St. Ann's Catholic Church; another is around Second and Harrison streets.
Meck said the borough's recommended solution for dealing with feral cats - "trap, neuter and return" -- does not work because "you have to have 100 percent compliance. Not one person from our neighborhood has turned in a cat to be spayed or neutered."
She added even if all the cats would be neutered they still would return to her neighborhood and continue "contaminating" yards.
A plea for help
Meck first came before borough council to complain about feral cats in September 2013.
This time she was not alone.
Christine Eck, Meck's neighbor, pleaded with council to do something about the cats.
"I really feel like I don't have any rights," said Eck. "These cats have more than I do. I really need help with this. Please, somebody help me get rid of these things."
Eck also said the solution is not to have cats neutered but then allowed to return to the neighborhood.