Protesters on Saturday again demanded proper care for a feral cat colony in an Oceanside landfill, while Town of Hempstead officials insisted the cats were being fed and sheltered.
Stanley Lombardo, a retired Town of Hempstead employee and East Rockaway resident, said he had cared for about 40 cats in the Oceanside Transfer Station for about 10 years until four weeks ago, when he said he was not allowed into town’s waste facility. Now, Lombardo and other animal welfare activists are concerned about the colony’s welfare.
The Town of Hempstead issued a statement Thursday saying town personnel are “feeding, providing shelter and changing litter for the feline population at the site.”
The statement added that the public is not allowed onto the site because of safety risks and liability issues posed by payloaders, large trucks and tractors.
Some of about 50 protesters said Saturday they’re not convinced, and want independent verification that the cats are OK.
“They want us to simply take their word for it,” said Stuart Kroll, 59, of Port Washington.
Lombardo said residents have watched the gate to the waste facility in shifts and not seen town personnel enter or exit to feed the cats.
A detective with the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals visited the site unannounced on June 23, the day before animal welfare activists held their first protest on the issue, said Gary Rogers, head of the county SPCA. The detective saw food, water, litter and blankets left out for the cats, and the SPCA is satisfied that the cats are being cared for, Rogers said.
“If we thought the cats weren’t being fed, under law we have the absolute right to stop an act of cruelty,” he said. “We would go in there and feed them ourselves.”
While Lombardo would like to be allowed back onto the facility, he said the group would be satisfied with installing cameras to monitor the area, trapping and removing the cats from the site or having another outsider care for them. Protesters are willing to sign a waiver releasing the town from liability, he said.
The group will continue to protest “every week for as long as it takes,” Lombardo said.
“I’m not your typical cat guy, but if you’re an animal lover, animals begin to grow on you,” he said.