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The Bobcat Must Go

Agreement reached with town on wildlife in home

Bobby Horvath relaxed in his North Massapequa home one day last week, soon after he and his wife, Cathy, had reached an agreement with Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto that the couple could keep some of the animals and birds they rescued at home, although others would have to go, namely  Tasha the bobcat.

The agreement between the Horvaths and the town came after negotiations, which were sparked by a neighbor’s complaint, objecting to all of the wildlife at the house on North Wyoming Avenue.

“I’m very happy,” said Horvath, a 50-year-old New York City firefighter who once wanted to become a veterinarian. “We appreciate what the supervisor did. He was a gentleman.”

Things were not always so happy.  Horvath and his wife, a veterinary technician, had been wildlife rehabilitators for more than 20 years, taking in injured birds and animals, rehabilitating them, and in Horvath’s words “letting them tell us when they were ready to go.” Horvath said he had received one complaint about 10 years ago about his wildlife collection, but it came to nothing.  

Then, a few weeks ago, a neighbor complained, setting off tense times between the Horvaths and some town officials. The Horvaths were given a deadline of last week to get rid of all of the wildlife.

 According to published reports, supporters of the Horvaths contacted town hall. One of them delivered a printout of an online petition signed by more than 30,000 people worldwide, asking the town to allow the couple to keep the wildlife.

Over the past weekend, Horvath said, Venditto called him, and negotiations began. Venditto had been talking to the Horvaths before the petitions arrived.

The Horvaths will be allowed to keep some, but not all, of their wildlife. Tasha, the 22-year-old bobcat that has lived its whole life with the couple, will have to go. Some of the wildlife will go to the town’s animal shelter in Syosset, and others to the Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford.  At present, the couple has eight hawks, two owls, and two turkeys. Exactly how many will have to go, and where, has not yet been decided. Horvath said he will miss Tasha, but added “I know he’s going to a good place.”