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Residents Fight Against Relocation of Cats in Bellmore Park

Town of Hempstead officials plan to move the cat colony in Newbridge Road Park to the further end of the facility starting May 1.

Residents are fighting against the Town of Hempstead's plan to move dozens of feral cats that have a home in Bellmore's Newbridge Road Park, according to an article in Newsday.

Town officials want to move the cats, remove their makeshift shelters and relocate their feeding stations to the end of the park starting May 1.

Dominique Gizelle, a Bellmore resident of 20 years, said that she aganist the relocation.

"These cats have been there for 12 years and there have been no complaints from anyone until one resident complained last year," she said. "They have been there for 12 years with the town's blessing, they don't bother anyone and they are behind a fence. Moving them is a form of abandonment."

The cats' caretakers of about 12 years told Newsday that moving the colony of more than 30 cats could threaten their survival.

"Moving the colonies put the lives of the cats in danger due to possible starvation," said Joyce Christie, 71, of Bellmore, who cares for the cats along with Jennifer Jones, 67, of Merrick . "There is no guarantee that they will follow the feeding stations."

According to Alley Cat Allies, a national advocacy organization that is dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, the felines should only be moved if their lives are in eminent danger. The organization also said that since the cats are very attached to their territory, they will feel unprotected and try to return to their current location, which can threaten their survival.

Town spokesman Michael Deery told Newsday that the move is necessary since the areas where the feeders are located have begun to erode due to the Whaleneck River. He also said that the Nassau County Health Department is concerned because people have complained about cat droppings near the park's pool deck.

"The move is for the health and safety of the people at the park and for the cats," Deery said.

Dominique Gizelle April 24, 2012 at 02:21 PM
The Health Department inspection NEVER called this a violation of public health or stated that the cats needed to be moved. They required that the manner of feeding be consistent with their current manner of feeding – which is raised off the ground. The Dept of Health clearly states that other than this they have "very little to say about the feeding of feral cats". The Health Dept has also clearly stated that they have made no order to move these cats. There is no factual basis for the claim that these cats present a health and safety concern or that there is an erosion issue. There is no evidence, expert or agency report or order that supports this claim. As for the claim that caretakers have "messed up the natural hunting and started feeding them enormous amounts of food" this is patently untrue. Feral cat experts agree that unmanaged colonies of feral cats live painful, difficult and short lives, frequently dying from exposure and starvation. In addition they proliferate rapidly creating many more cats that are left to suffer and die of exposure and starvation. One pair of un-neutered cats multiplies into 420,000 cats over a seven year period. These caretakers are providing an incredible community service at their sole PERSONAL expense, saving the tax payers of our community a fortune in animal control costs.
Dominique Gizelle April 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM
See my comment below
Be Humane April 24, 2012 at 04:25 PM
The feeders are in FULL COMPLIANCE WITH HEALTH DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS. There is NO HEALTH HAZARD DUE TO CARING FOR A FERAL CAT COLONY. You say kittens are born every year near your home. Well, the Animal Shelter has a TNR Program in place. Why don’t you call them? Further, you do not seem to even know what a feral cat is. In New York, cats are NOT considered wildlife. Why don't you get educated and read about feral cats at www.alleycatallies.org and Neighborhood Cats NYC? In your fantasy of the feral cat world they have access to shelter and an abundance of opportunity to acquire food through hunting and gathering. We are living in suburbia where natural habitats have been destroyed by our need for bigger and bigger homes and more stores, roads, etc. The consequences impact animals most acutely. It was YOUR inaccurate information that cost taxpayers thousands in a TNR day that yielded no surgeries b/c the cats had already been fixed. And, this move is going to cost the taxpayers even more. Park workers have to clear brush and expose themselves to ticks and all sorts of parasites, new fencing is being installed. I hope you are satisfied with yourself. Instead of them living in a contained area this effort will scatter them and rest assured, they will be more visible than ever. So what will be your next step then? Will you demand they all be rounded up and killed?
Dominique Gizelle April 24, 2012 at 04:26 PM
They admit to never interviewing the caretakers or getting the other side of this story. This can hardly be considered "the most accurate report".
Dominique Gizelle April 24, 2012 at 08:17 PM
These two women have been managing this colony with the BLESSING and ASSISTANCE of the park for 12 years.
Chris Glazier April 24, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Well I think we know who the 'one citizen' was who complained :) So are they just relocating the feeding stations or moving the cats out of the park entirely? I think you could move the food and shelter in a remote corner but otherwise leave the cats alone. I find it very hard to believe this has been a problem for 12 years and only now something is being done about it.
Lucille April 25, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Once again the town is doing the WRONG THING! Using OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS, ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS WHO MAKE AN AVERAGE OF $86,000 A YEAR WILL SPEND OUR MONEY RIPPING APART FENCING, SHELTERS AND FEEDING STATIONS FOR THESE POOR CATS! THEY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES!
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 02:31 PM
There is no factual basis for the claim that these cats present a health and safety concern. There is no evidence, expert or agency report or order that supports this claim. The movement of this colony and the removal of their shelter is very likely going to cause them to scatter throughout the park - and be EVERYWHERE. They will no longer be able to be fed in one are out of the public access and so many will starve and die from exposure.
Sharon Elliot April 25, 2012 at 02:31 PM
You people should really stop being so selfish and "on sided". The solution is good for the cats and the people.
Concerned April 25, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Who do we contact to express our outrage? I can't find names, email addresses, telephone numbers, of those who are in charge of removing the cats. They need a flood of emails, telephone calls, etc. so they know that people really care about this matter.
Concerned April 25, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Who do we contact to stop this? email? telephone numbers? names? Thanks!
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Thank you! We need help the May 1st deadline is looming. Email - Kate Murray (email form) http://townofhempstead.org/helpline and Angie M. Cullin - Councilwoman acullin@tohmail.org Call 516- 292-9000 X 208 - Ray Rhoden (warning he will give you false information to make you go away. See Town Hall meeting video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai59mtV_njM&context=C4cb492eADvjVQa1PpcFMm4XnOnnCBc_byraIAzuwfHYnZ6fOM4EY= Write - (not much time left) Town of Hempstead, Ray Rhoden Department of Parks and Recreation 200 North Franklin Street, Hempstead, NY 11550 Please join our facebook page www.facebook.com/NewbridgeCats for much information. Also please sign our online petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/town-of-hempstead-endangering-lives-of-managed-feral-cat-colony?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=friends_wall
Concerned April 25, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Do you have an email address for Ray Rhoden, department of Parks and Recreation?
Concerned April 25, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Have you contacted Legislator Dave Denenberg? He is outstanding and a great help in dealing with community issues.
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Town of Hempstead, Ray Rhoden Department of Parks and Recreation 200 North Franklin Street, Hempstead, NY 11550
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
As I mentioned, there is false and incomplete information being given to make this move appear to be innocuous. It is not.
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Yes the caretakers met with Dave Denenberg. He contacted Kate Murray on their behalf but hasn't heard back. Please contact him too!
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Both caretakers have no record of Fox 5 News attempt to contact them for a comment on this story. This is a very one sided report. The facts are that the Health Department inspection NEVER called this a violation of public health or stated that the cats needed to be moved. They required that the manner of feeding be consistent with their current manner of feeding – which is raised off the ground. The Dept of Health clearly states that other than this they have "very little to say about the feeding of feral cats". The Health Dept has also clearly stated that they have made no order to move these cats. There is no factual basis for the claim that these cats present a health and safety concern or that there is an erosion issue. There is no evidence, expert or agency report or order that supports this claim. Feral cat experts agree that unmanaged colonies of feral cats live painful, difficult and short lives, frequently dying from exposure and starvation. In addition they proliferate rapidly creating many more cats that are left to suffer and die of exposure and starvation. One pair of un-neutered cats multiplies into 420,000 cats over a seven year period. These caretakers are providing an incredible community service at their sole PERSONAL expense, saving the tax payers of our community a fortune in animal control costs. More to come...
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 05:16 PM
This colony is in danger of dying from exposure and starvation should the current plan to remove their shelter and evict the colony from its current location, be permitted to move forward. This colony has been managed by two Senior Citizen residents of the town, at their personal expense and with the blessing and assistance of the park for the past 12 years. In fact just last summer a Town representative stated that he felt this was a "very well managed and cared-for colony". All cats have been neutered, vaccinated, receive veterinary care when needed and are fed daily. Over the past year, one resident has begun complaining to the town about the colony. Since that time the Parks Dept has threatened to evict the colony, moving them to the far end of the park, and remove their shelters as of May 1st. There are many concerns about this. • Experts agree that such a move would endanger the lives of these animals. • They also agree that attempts to move a colony are almost always unsuccessful. • This is also likely to create a situation where the cats will scatter throughout the park seeking food and shelter, and no longer be contained in an single area out of the public access, as they are now. • New un-neutered cats are likely to move in to the area and multiply, creating a much bigger problem. • There are also many logistical issues that make this move problematic if not impossible. More to come…
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Start at the bottom and read the comments going up... Most cruelly, all shelter is to be removed from the colony, leaving these animals completely exposed to the elements. After having had shelter established within colony for so long, this is akin to abandonment, animal neglect and abuse. Residents who have called and written to voice their concern have been given erroneous information, that I can only assume is to designed to make them go away. We’ve been told. • It has been ordered by the Health Dept - it has not. • We’ve been told that the move is only 200 ft, when in fact the move would be ¼ mile. • We’ve been told that the caretakers are involved in making this decision when in fact they are being dictated to about the move. • When called out on the facts, there is always yet another, different reason given as to why this move is necessary. • The new claim is that there is an erosion issue and that this move is required to preserve the health and safety of the community. Once again, there is no factual basis for the claim that these cats present a health and safety concern or that there is an erosion issue. There is no evidence, expert or agency report or order that supports this claim.
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 07:06 PM
All these cats have been vaccinated against rabies, so there is no cause for concern regarding rabies. As for the spread of other diseases and health concerns, Canada goose droppings are everywhere throughout the park. Studies show that they help spread human parasitic diseases and can cause outbreaks of diarrheal parasitic disease in people. The best known of these parasites are Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum. Goose droppings are spread out on the grass, walkways and parking lot of the park. I'm not aware that anyone has ever reported contracting a disease from either cat or goose.
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I recognize that you have fears about these cats and I have compassion for your concerns. But that does not mean that these fears are grounded. Despite your concerns, no cat at the has every injured anyone in 12 years.
Dominique Gizelle April 25, 2012 at 08:03 PM
12 years is not luck, it is a proven pattern of behavior. This is why I do not feel concern for the residents who use the park. Time has proven that this fear has no basis. I walk the park regularly and do not detect any odor from the cats. There are other alternatives to moving the cats that will address your concerns and not endanger the cats lives. This is what we're trying to accomplish.
Linda Shay April 26, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Hi, Dom! What do they say about one bad apple? Signed the petition!
Dominique Gizelle April 27, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Hey Linda! Thanks for signing :-)
Chuck May 01, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Not only should the "FERAL CATS" be removed the "FERAL CAT" advocates should be relocated too.
paul May 01, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Cat Colony Relocation Protest: As I look at the picture of protesters against moving a "FERAL CAT COLONY" I wonder if they even know what a feral cat is? I also wonder what they told that young girl in the picture what the difference is between a feral cal and a stray cat. My guess probably not. Sad state of affairs when a group of humans wants a feral cat colony to remain in a park where families and children play and enjoy a park. These protesters should take home a feral cat and care for them. Let your children pet them and let me know how aggressive the feral cat became or even snapped at the hand that fed them or pet them. These feral cats should be spayed, neutered and then there lifespan will be shortened for the better. If not perhaps euthanize now.
Carol Press May 04, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Concerns or comments TOH J. Bentivegna 516-292-9000 ext 201
Carol Press May 04, 2012 at 11:54 AM
contact TOH-J Bentivegna 516-292-9000 ext 201 for concerns or comments on this issue
Robin August 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Please google... "The Magic Rabies Shot?" and "Undiagnosed Human Rabies Deaths?" and "Rabies Outbreak in Westchester County and the Connection to Feral Cats"

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