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I am thrilled that the town has finally acknowledged the cay problem in North Hempstead by offering ten thousand of our tax dollars for three cat rescue groups to share, to trap, spay or neuter, and release the homeless and wild cats of our town. However, I do think this is a small compensation to a big problem. It is slightly less than two percent of the animal shelter budget.

The spay-neuter release program the town is boasting about is certainly not new. Rescue groups have been doing this work for many, many years. Of course what is new is that the town will offer financial assistance to these groups and that is great news. Cat rescue groups work very hard to keep the cat population under control, and funds are sorely needed. I do believe that before you know it, the funds allocated for this project will dry up. Then what? Hopefully, this program will be ongoing. At last, feral (wild) cats will begin to have more status with the town standing behind such a project. This program however, has nothing to do with the issue of sheltering cats. Without sheltering kittens and cats, I am afraid that those cats abandoned as a result, will be wandering the streets, reproducing and keeping the already overworked volunteers with more to contend with. What provisions has the town made for situations that arise when a landowner does not want cats to remain on the property? There are many people who actually dislike cats. When the public reads about this program, without a shelter and educational material to read, they might think they can dump their cats into the streets, someone will find them, feed them, and fix them and it will be just fine. In conjunction with this program the town should be promoting Keep Your Cat Indoors! Cats left outdoors are subject to poisonings, disease, cruelty, being hit by cars, attacks from other animals and more. These issues need to be addressed.

I have spent nearly two years organizing meetings with cat rescue volunteers and town officials, bringing to the town various experts in animal welfare issues, and having letters sent to the town by various national and local animal welfare organizations and residents in support for the town accepting cats into our town shelter. Our animal shelter budget is over $511,000. There is plenty of room in our Úquot;animalÚquot; (dog) shelter to set up a cat adoption program right now! There are unused cages already in the shelter and cats can be admitted without any major renovation cost! Dogs are housed in their own separate area. There are also approximately 50 volunteers. The town can come up with excuses not to do so, but these facts remain.

Without a shelter for lost and abandoned cats, where does someone who loses a cat look for it, and where does someone bring a cat they find? I think $10,000 is a small price to pay for such good publicity for the town. I consider this program the Úquot;$10,000 acknowledgement.Úquot; If this is the first phase of the plan to help cats, hopefully, the town will now unveil their future plans to the public, and exactly when they will be implemented. I think this spay-neuter financial assistance plan is a way for the town to say they are helping cats without actually doing anything to help the starving and helpless, homeless kittens and cats roaming our streets that do indeed need sheltering and adoption services, as the dogs have in our town. The town used to accept cats into the shelter, I cannot imagine why they stopped. Imagine if the dogs of our town were treated this way? If you lost your cat, perhaps you should start looking for it near the dumpsters in town, where it may have found food and perhaps joined a colony. North Hempstead will be known as the first town on Long Island to sponsor Úquot;outdoor cat sheltersÚquot; at the overworked cat rescue volunteer's expense, with no shelter to bring adoptable or starving cats that are found.

Sherrill Robinson


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