Call it a cat fight – or a gun fight – but either way, there’s a battle between neighbors in Chatham County.
The founder of a cat refuge near Pittsboro said she is worried about the noise, possible stray bullets and environmental impact from shells at a new nearby gun range.
About 200 cats roam the Goathouse Refuge at any time. Founder Siglinda Scarpa said it’s the largest no-kill animal refuge in the state.
"This is a place where people come to regenerate, to understand the relationship between animals and nature and people,” she said.
But she said the refuge is at risk because her new neighbor is Range 2-A, a private outdoor shooting range.
"We measured it. It's 80 yards from the fences," she said.
The gun range’s owner said in a Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/Range2A) that the distance is further.
“The Goathouse is 600 feet from our closest shooting position through dense woods. All of our bays are also pointed in the opposite direction of the Goathouse,” Range 2A said.
Scarpa said, "We had some cats that really started over-grooming themselves. They started having diarrhea and those are the classical symptoms of stress. I have three big dogs that run under my bed when they're shooting."
She said the refuge had to cancel an annual fundraising brunch scheduled for later this month that would have brought nearly 100 people to the refuge and enough money to fund the organization for about three months.
“We cannot ask people that are supporting us and paying to come here to eat food and have a good afternoon with music. We can’t impose to them to be here to pay that kind of money and be here to listen to the shooting,” she said.
On Facebook the Range 2A owners have acknowledged this controversy, posting, “For our friends, we are asking that you take the high road and not engage the individuals from the Goathouse or their supporters who post on our page. Their opinions will not change.
“We are not animal haters, we are 2nd amendment advocates who believe that the firearm training of our military, law enforcement and law abiding citizens is essential. Veterinarians have assured us that there is no harm to animals at the refuge. We actually work with agencies that train military and law enforcement dogs.
“Our stance is that an organized facility where safe firearm training can take place is best for society overall and will save lives. We regret that they have taken this approach and ask that you maintain the image and essence of responsible gun owners. Thank you.”
But Scarpa said she is ready for battle.
“All of the neighbors are getting together,” she said. “We are going to do whatever we can to shut them down."
"We have nothing against their guns,” Scarpa said. “They can use their guns anytime they want, just put a big bunker where we don't hear them and they can shoot day and night. We don't care. I own a gun."
Meanwhile, Chatham County manager Charlie Horne said of the dispute, “The county is not involved in any action at this point regarding the gun range. Key staff will be talking to the owner(s) to see if there are ways to lessen noise issues and safety issues, assuming there are any.”
The owner of Range 2A could not be reached for comment.