Monday, August 7, 2017

Catnip Nation's August Report: A Long Island Feral Colony is in Danger

In June I brought you the second installment of a series of posts by Tina Traster, Producer and Director of the documentary film Catnip Nation. This month Tina tells us about a feral colony at a town dump that is in jeopardy. I'm hoping all parties involved can come to terms for the sake of the cats. How nice would it be for all cats to live safe and happy lives? I hope this feral colony is safe and is being taken care of.

Dawn




Hello again, from the team at Catnip Nation, a documentary that sheds light on the unsung and unseen heroes who take care of feral cats, and the adversity they face. In early summer, we were strategizing on how to wrap up the existing stories that Catnip Nation will tell. And then Facebook alerted us to a truly heinous story taking place in Hempstead, Long Island, and so our film expanded, again. But that’s okay, because we believe it’s our job to expose the unnecessary cruelty that befalls feral cat colonies and their caretakers at the hands at heartless politicians.

Here’s the background. Rockaway resident Stanley Lombardo, a retired town employee, had been stationed at the Oceanside Sanitation Transfer Station (the town dump) for more than a decade. Over the time span, he had tended to a colony of nearly 40 cats. Clearly this was a passion for him. For eight months after he retired, he continued to come to the site to feed the cats.


Catnip Nation Documentary|Feral Cat Colonies


Then, after a political tangle with Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, he was banned. He showed up one day and dump employees said “sorry Stanley, you’re no longer allowed to be here.” Stunned, Stanley turned to town animal activists, who have jammed town hall meetings, protested in front of the town dump on Saturdays, and have been pressing the New York Humane Society and the ASPCA, to let Stanley back on the site.

What he and others have been told is that “another employee” is feeding the cats, but nobody’s buying that. Activists have been demanding access. They want to see videos of the cats on the site. They’ve told the town they would supply cameras. But all they’ve gotten is a big push back. The town even went so far as to close down the town dump to residents, who used to be able to go on site for mulch and other items.


Catnip Nation Documentary|Feral Cat Colonies


The politicians are using familiar tactics. They say the location is a dangerous worksite and non-employees cannot be on site. They say non-employees entering the area could be injured or killed by moving heavy machinery, which is a liability for the town. Why wasn’t that the case before Lombardo and Santino had a falling out?





Activists fear the cats, who have been TNRed, and were living a peaceful life, are either endangered, or have already been swept out or rounded up and euthanized. The Nassau County SPCA says it visited the site on June 25th and “found no problems.” Again, residents, activists, and Lombardo do not believe this. A few residents have risked arrest and have snuck onto the property. (We have footage!!) And they say the area is void of any feline life. A recent interloper reports the grass where the cats used to roam is now filled with ducks. (Nature abhors a vacuum). Activists are continuing to pressure the Humane Society to take a good look at what is really happening here, but they will not be satisfied until they are either provided with video footage or they can access the site themselves.
Indeed maybe there are cats there. Maybe someone is throwing them kibble. But the heartlessness of this situation boils down to Lombardo’s agony. A feral cat colony caretaker invests tremendous emotional capital in a colony. Every colony caretaker knows this. Essentially they are his cats. They give him a sense of purpose. And the cats, in kind, view him as the human they trust. The town used the cats for political payback. Sad. 

Please weigh in. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.



Tina Traster is a socially-conscious, award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker. Her 30-minute documentary, This House Matters, is an examination on historic preservation in the Hudson Valley. The film has screened at the YoFi Film Festival, the Kingston Film Festival, the Hoboken International Film Festival, and the Nyack Film Festival. Traster's work has appeared in scores of newspapers, magazines and literary journals including The New York Times, The New York Post, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Redbook, Family Circle, Parade, Time Out New York, Audubon, Ski Magazine and many others. She is the author of the award-winning memoir Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother's Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder. Since 2006, Traster has written the "Burb Appeal"column for The New York Post. 

36 comments:

  1. This situation is awful and sick. It makes me and my human so angry and we feel so helpless, being on the opposite coast and not able to do anything.

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  2. this is just very sad,there's a park were bunnies and other animals have been dumped and those that feed the animals and catch the bunnies to re-home them have been denied access even though there has been a court order to allow the access to the volunteers ,makes me cross this sort of thing,xx Rachel

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  3. This is such a sad situation. We hope something can be done to help these feral cats.

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  4. This makes me angry! Am glad there are folks trying to help the kitties; sending purrs that they are all okay.

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  5. Wow, this made me cry. I truly wonder what terrible fate (besides being starved) has befallen this colony. When you get more information, I hope you will share. Is there anything an outsider from another state can do to help? XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, angel Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo and Cooper Murphy

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    1. I'm not sure, but if I find anything out I'll let you know. Thanks for caring.

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  6. This is so upsetting. I am so hoping for a happy ending. This is hard for me to understand. The politicians would rather have all this unrest than just let Stanley back in to take care of the cats??

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  7. What terrible people to prevent care of living beings and for what? We suspect someone's personal prejudice against cats. we are ashamed of those people as they should be of themselves.

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  8. This is very upsetting. I wonder what happened to the poor ferals that had lived there.

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  9. It's just a darn good thing the Dad doesn't live there or, well, I can't say cause it ain't nice, but there would be a few missing idiots I'm afraid.

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  10. How awful! I grew up in Hewlett, not far from Oceanside so this is really disturbing to me. Helpless animals should never be the brunt of political BS. Those poor babies. I shared on FB, G+, and Twitter.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  11. How awful! I grew up in Hewlett, not far from Oceanside so this is really disturbing to me. Helpless animals should never be the brunt of political BS. Those poor babies. I shared on FB, G+, and Twitter.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  12. My full thoughts can't be put into a PG-rated comment. What's wrong with people?!?! This infuriates me ... a well cared for, RESPONSIBLE colony!!! This guy's got to be subject to his voters ... after all, they're the ones he banned.

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  13. That is so sad and so stupid. What is wrong with feeding a group of feral cats. Try to get it on National news.

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  14. Bastards (no apology...) What can we do Lola.We will share on social media but we need to do more. Do Alley Cat ASllies know about this?

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    1. I'm not sure. I know they're involved in another situation in New York.

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  15. It seems like local politics are overriding common sense here. In what way is feeding these cats dangerous? The man worked there for years, it's not like he doesn't know the territory! While I suspect that these cats may have been euthanized (shudder), I hope that a compassionate alternative will be found instead. Could these cats be taken by shelters in the area and re-homed?

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    1. I'm not sure if that's a possibility, but people need access to the area to even try. Maybe that's in the works.

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  16. Reading this makes me feel sick to my stomach. It boggles my mind how people can be so cold and ruthless despite everything. There are REAL options available and sadly, the town would rather play a game than have a heart for these innocent cats.

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  17. What a horrible thing and very sad for the cats and the people who care about them.

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  18. Such a sad situation. And to be lied to about what's going on. I am glad there are plenty of humans who aren't going to let it go.

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  19. This is not sad this is bloody impossible. We stand ready to yell loudly, blog, write to politicians. Just tell us WHO.

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  20. This is horrible. I just went with a veterinarian friend who takes care of two colonies of cats in Sacramento. People there sometimes yell "thank you" out the window. I feel so bad for the cats and these people who are being compassionate and caring yet getting push back by others.

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  21. The capacity for humans empathy and alternatively lack of compassion never seem to amaze me. What a horrible situation.

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  22. Why all the resistance if the town is really ensuring the cats are safe? Something isn't right here.... Is Alley Cat Allies involved?

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    1. I'm not sure. I know they're involved in another situation here in NY.

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  23. There just has to be a better way for all involved. There obviously is a political angle here - and I agree why was the place not considered unsafe BEFORE the falling out HOWEVER was anything being done to spay and release the cats when Stanley was watching over them? Were activist helping in this process? I need to read your previous articles clearly.
    While what is happening is NOT okay by any means and does anger me - I also wonder if simply feeding these feral cats is the whole answer.

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    1. Yes, the cats were TNR'd and returned to their colony. The activists weren't involved then (to my knowledge) because Stanley worked with people who were able to assist in the spay/neuter process. Feral cat colonies rely on their feeders for survival. I'll be writing a post soon on the Boardwalk Cats of Atlantic City.

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    2. Awesome! See this only PROVES that Stanley was doing EVERYTHING he could and doing it RIGHT! Thank you for the info! I look forward to your next post!

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  24. I'll never understand why people think cats are so expendable. We'd never hear this about a stray dog.

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  25. I hope that the cats are okay, but it doesn't sound good at all. I'm glad that there are people who care so much and are trying to find out what is really going on.

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  26. As one of the protesters and participants, I can tell you 1st hand that this has been a frustrating & infuriating experience. Tony Santino compounds the issue by speaking down to his concerned constituents. At last month's meeting no one could even supply a head count! They claim they're feeding the cats and they're being well taken care of. Why then, do they not know how many cats there are?

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  27. This is a terribly sad situation. People who take the time and effort to feed and provide veterinary care for feral cat colonies are angels, and need the support of their communities to continue their mission. I hope Mr. Lombardo will be able to see and care for his cats once again. Thank you for bringing awareness to this story!

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