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Corner Brook’s Doug Barter believes roaming cats can help keep rodents away from homes

Darts the cat is an indoor cat these days, though its owner Doug Barter thinks letting Darts roam outside might help keep rodents away from their home.
Darts the cat is an indoor cat these days, though its owner Doug Barter thinks letting Darts roam outside might help keep rodents away from their home. - Gary Kean

Rodents coming around his property are not something Doug Barter had to deal with much after he got a cat.

The resident of Windsor Street said he used to see signs of the odd mouse every now and again when he first moved into the area a few years ago.

Not long after they moved in, a neighbour’s cat started becoming a frequent visitor. Eventually, the neighbour actually told the Barters they could keep the friendly feline, which they did.

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Once Darts — named after the pastime Barter and friends were doing during many of the cat’s inaugural visits — was around all the time, the mouse problem seemed to more or less disappear.

This past summer, Barter got a visit from the City of Corner Brook’s animal control officer, who informed him Darts had been the subject of a complaint lodged by a neighbour. In speaking to the neighbour, Barter said he was told the cat hadn’t done any damage, but was seen climbing up on the neighbour’s motorcycle.

He could have fought the fine in court, but chose instead to pay it and move on.

Regardless of what Darts did or didn’t do while roaming around, Barter has since kept the cat confined to the heated garage. It has plenty of space to romp around and Barter has set up a bed, some cat-friendly climbing apparatus, scratching posts and toys to keep Darts busy.

Since the incarceration of Darts, Barter has seen signs of rodents returning to his property, and not just mice.

Sunday night, he caught a large rat in one of the three traps he has set.

He doesn’t leave garbage around and tries to make sure his home is not attractive to vermin.

He thinks cats, as long as certain conditions are met, should be allowed to roam in order to keep such pests away from homes.

“What would you rather on your lawn, a cat or a rat?” he asked.

Barter believes if a cat is registered with the city and, like Darts, has been spayed or neutered, has all its vaccinations and has a microchip so it can be promptly returned to its owner, then it should be allowed to roam as a means of pest control.

“I know cats tear up gardens and stuff, too, but there are flowers you can plant and steps you can take if you are concerned about cats tearing up your garden,” said Barter. “You don’t want rats finding a way into your house either. They can cause a lot of damage.”

In the summer and fall of 2016, The Western Star reported there had been a rise in the number of problem rats reported throughout Corner Brook. Todd Flynn, the City of Corner Brook’s director of protective services, said Monday there continues to be a problem with the rodents.

“It hasn’t gotten any better,” he said. “If you ask any pest control company out there, they will tell you they have been busy with rats. So has the city with rats on city–owned property.”

He noted there are no regulations requiring cats to be registered or licensed, but there are indeed bylaws against allowing them to roam and potentially destroy the property of others.

“We don’t have a huge cat problem, though we do get a scattered complaint,” said Flynn.

He said if Barter or anyone else feels the rules and regulations regarding roaming cats should be changed, they should voice those concerns with city council, as it is that entity that has the power to change the municipal legislation.

The latest rat stats in Corner Brook:

- 2014: 26 complaints

- 2015: 17 complaints

- 2016: 52 complaints

- 2017: 46 (complaints to date)

Source: City of Corner Brook

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