Attack by cat prompts call for regulation

An unprovoked attack by a female cat gave a Marion woman a rabies scare-and convinced her the city needs to regulate feline ownership.

Diana Costello was taking her Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy for a walk when the two were attacked by a female cat.

Costello said from a distance she saw a man and woman walking toward her with a cat walking behind them. She thought the cat belonged to the couple.

As the walkers neared the corner of Lincoln and Sherman, Costello said the cat saw the dog and attacked.

Unable to separate the two animals, Costello began pulling up her dog by the leash when she said she suddenly found herself on the ground after the cat jumped on her.

“I hit the pavement, cracked my head, and the cat bit and scratched my leg,” she said.

The walkers came to Costello’s aid and got the cat off her and the dog.

Costello went to a nearby home and called the police, who notified the city animal-control officer.

She said they had no trouble catching the cat once it was out of sight of the dog.

The cat did not have a collar, any form of identification or a tag indicating proof of a rabies vaccination.

The only way to determine if an animal is positive for rabies is to have a specialized test done on the animal’s brain.

“I felt terrible that somebody’s pet had to be euthanized,” she said. “It hurt me terribly, but it had to be done.”

Costello said her neighborhood has a number of stray cats, as do many other neighborhoods in Marion.

“I know people feel sorry for them and feed them,” she said. “But there are way too many cats that people feed and don’t get vaccinated. And those cats just are not safe around kids.”

Costello’s injuries took her to St. Luke Hospital in Marion, where the four puncture wounds and multiple scratches were cleaned and antibiotics started.

She said she spent the weekend waiting for the report from Kansas State University regarding the rabies test. She received word Monday afternoon that the cat did not test positive for rabies.

“I am glad,” she said, “but I still feel very bad about it.”

Costello said she has wished for a number of years that Marion had an ordinance for cats similar to the one for dogs.

“I realize there would be trouble enforcing it,” she said, “but I think there would be more collars and tags for situations just like this one. The people who love their pets will gladly do it.”

Dennis Nichols, Marion city administrator, agreed with Costello.

He said to date no one has formally asked the city to consider such an ordinance.

“We have had a fair number of people make complaints about cats,” Nichols said. “And if someone did want the city to consider such a resolution, they just need to contact the city office.”

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