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The only undisputed fact appears to be that the cat shelter on the Nassau County Property leased by the Science Museum of Long Island was vandalized before Harbor Day 2007, June 4, probably between Friday night and Saturday morning. The wire mesh was cut open and the lock was broken and the cats in the self-contained building were gone. The Sixth Precinct Nassau County Police were called to investigate but no person is suspected or charged with the crime.

On the afternoon of June 4, Museum Director John Loret with representatives of the museum board of trustees inspected the vandalized empty shed and found it infested with fleas and rats present under the floor slab. After considerable discussion the trustees determined that the shed was a health and safety hazard and the museum director was instructed to have the shed demolished and the debris removed. The trustees also directed that this work be conducted without delay as the museum's summer education program would begin in two weeks. "The board of trustees and the museum staff deplore this act of vandalism but they must ensure a healthy and safe environment in which the children of Long Island may happily engage in the pursuit of scientific knowledge," wrote Board Secretary Gerald Bunting in a letter to Friends of the Science Museum of Long Island.

Dr. Loret said that the stench of urine at the shelter had been awful. The cat shelter volunteers dispute that the cat shelter posed any threat or problem to anyone. Cheryl Zwerlein, speaking for the volunteers, claimed that responsible volunteers cared for the contained cats, which had all their shots and were neutered. The volunteers believe that the vandalism was not a good excuse to destroy the cat shelter.

Animal shelter volunteer Christopher Arsenault, in an article he sent about this incident to 12 newspapers, wrote that Dr. Loret's actions were cruel to the animals and a "felony" when he locked the shelter and removed the food after he discovered the vandalism. Arsenault claimed there was blood showing the animals had been harmed. He and other volunteers in searching for the cats have only found a few. Arsenault claimed that the cat shelter was educational in that the cats were neutered and had shots showing the proper way to take care of cats.

Both Dr. Loret and the volunteers agree that Dr. Loret has wanted the cats removed from the shelter for several years. Seven years ago Dr. Loret agreed to temporarily let volunteers use the shelter to take care of feral cats found on the museum property. Originally the building housed animals for the children to observe at the museum. However, the USDA forbid the use of the building for housing animals because it was below standard and so it stood empty for many years. He has sent letters to the volunteers several times over the years asking them to remove the cats but they never complied.

Dr. Loret has been trying to educate the community about not dropping off animals at the preserve. He found a dead boa constrictor recently. He caught one woman trying to leave a chicken and a man trying to release a raccoon that he thought would be happier at the preserve than in his backyard.

Food left in the preserve for feral cats also attracts undesirable animals as well. So for the next month the board decided that the volunteers could use food to trap the cats to remove them to a safe place. Dr. Loret said the ASPCA would be supervising the activities of the volunteers who will only be allowed on the property to trap the cats before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. on weekdays.


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