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Niagara Falls councilwoman reports email threats after proposing crackdown on feeding feral cats

NIAGARA FALLS – City Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti has filed a complaint with Niagara Falls police after receiving threats on her personal email.

The threats came after Grandinetti proposed a policy that would prohibit the feeding of feral cats in the city. After hearing complaints at the April 4 meeting, she agreed to table the resolution that night and has since been working on an updated proposal with Niagara County SPCA Director Amy Lewis.

Grandinetti, who describes herself as an animal lover who has three rescued cats, said shortly after the April 4 meeting that she received nasty Facebook messages, including some from people she had thought were friends.

Grandinetti filed a report of aggravated harassment April 16, noting the name-calling and threats made on her Facebook account, but she said she then got two threatening emails on her personal account from an unknown person.

The emails said, “Cats are better than you.” “I would like to see you drugged and etc.” and “Do us a favor and kill yourself.”

Police Chief E. Bryan DalPorto said the case was turned over to the Detective Bureau.

According to the police report, there are addresses in Rochester and Batavia associated with the suspect’s email account.

Grandinetti said she proposed the law because of concerns that residents had brought to her about stray cats that were a nuisance in the city.

The councilwoman said the proposed policy was developed with the best of intentions to make sure that both sides had a voice.

Her original proposal would have changed the city policy, which largely ignored cats, and instead make it against the law to feed feral or stray cats. Those who violated the policy could be fined and/or have their cats seized.

The new law also proposed support and rules for those who trap, neuter, vaccinate and release, or TNVR, feral cats. Lewis said the SPCA supports that part of the law and wants to work with Grandinetti on it. She said the agency is opposed to any restrictions on feeding stray cats or seizing cats and putting them into the already burdened shelter.

Lewis said, “I think people are taking this out of context. They are calling her a cat-killer and everything else, and that is not the intent of the proposal.”

She called Grandinetti’s resolution a “tremendous opportunity” for education on the issue in Niagara Falls.

“I didn’t agree with the proposal at all and I told her that, but I think it opened up a really good avenue to discuss a little something better for cats and for the residents,” Lewis said.

The resolution is not on the agenda for the next Council meeting and remains under discussion, according to both Grandinetti and Lewis.