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SaveKitty Foundation is working to implement a TNR program for the hundreds of cats who live at the Ravenswood Houses in Queens. (Photo by Rosary Immordino)

SaveKitty Foundation is working to implement a TNR program for the hundreds of cats who live at the Ravenswood Houses in Queens.

Photo by Rosary Immordino

NYC Eartips: Summer 2010

SaveKitty Foundation Spearheads Effort to Save Ravenswood Cats

by Rosary Immordino and Debi Romano, SaveKitty Foundation

Last fall, the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals asked SaveKitty Foundation to respond to a request to check out a dire situation at Ravenswood Houses, a 31-building public housing complex in Long Island City, Queens. SaveKitty Foundation is an Alliance Participating Organization and a member of the the NYC Feral Cat Initiative. When we arrived, we stood there, stunned at the number of homeless cats roaming the grounds of one building alone. None had been spayed or neutered.

We returned the next day and began trapping. We caught 17 cats in 15 minutes. A few days later, local Ravenswood management contacted us, curious as to what we were doing there. We explained that we planned to Trap-Neuter-Return all the cats — at no cost to the City of New York. (We weren't sure where we would get the money to do this; we just knew we had to.) They were very excited to hear that we were there to help them. They told us they estimated there were hundreds of homeless cats at Ravenswood.

SaveKitty swung into high gear. We got commitments from the ASPCA, The Humane Society of New York, and local private veterinarians to help with the spay/neuter surgeries and some of the adoptions. We gathered a group of core volunteers to do the trapping and began to put systems in place to begin this huge undertaking.

Then we hit a roadblock. When Ravenswood management tried to get the head of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to approve the project, NYCHA categorically declined our offer, saying we could trap and neuter the cats but under no conditions could they be returned to Ravenswood. That would mean that they would wind up at Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C), where most would be euthanized.

The battle had begun to save the Ravenswood cats!

Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride, thinking one minute we've got the go-ahead, only to have another roadblock put in front of us. Although we had a very disappointing meeting with NYCHA Commissioner Margarita Lopez a few weeks back, we have not given up. We are now planning our next steps in our fight to TNR the Ravenswood cats.

In the meantime, we did manage a small victory. NYCHA has agreed not to trap and remove the cats. Instead, they will chase them out of the crawl spaces that are their homes, but allow them to stay on Ravenswood property. Although we disagree with the sealing of the crawl spaces, SaveKitty has been there, day after day, in the heat, diligently observing this process to make sure that no cats are sealed inside to die. To date we have removed about 40 cats and kittens and taken them into foster care.

To get the latest information on the Ravenswood situation, go to the Ravenswood page of the SaveKitty Foundation website at www.SaveKitty.org.

About the Authors

Debi Romano is President and co-founder of SaveKitty Foundation and has been rescuing animals for over 30 years. She has been doing TNR since before there was even a name for it.

Rosary Immordino is Executive Director and co-founder of SaveKitty Foundation. She's been performing rescue and TNR for five years. She has 30 years of business experience. In a previous life, she worked as an auto mechanic, and is currently a practicing gestalt psychotherapist and training specialist.