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Town, wildlife rehabilitators close to deal

A white duck with a damaged or deformed

A white duck with a damaged or deformed bill being held by Cathy Horvath at Camman's Pond in Merrick. (June 14, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The rotating roster of animals cared for by wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath will still have a home in Nassau County -- but not at the couple's North Massapequa house.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and the Horvaths met Tuesday to discuss the town's animal shelter in Syosset and Nassau County's Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford as two places where long-term care could be provided for animals.

Venditto said he wants to help the couple "continue the good work they do without being obnoxious and offensive to surrounding residents."

Bobby Horvath, 50, a New York City firefighter, and his wife, Cathy, 53, a veterinary technician, may be able to keep some birds and small mammals at their home on residential North Wyoming Avenue for short-term care.

"I think we had a nice conversation," Cathy Horvath said. "I'm very excited and very relieved that they're going to work with us." Tackapausha would be the preferable site for their work, she said.

The meeting came two weeks after the Horvaths were served with a notice that they were violating the "dangerous animal" section of the town code by harboring wild animals at their home.

The couple, whose menagerie had included hawks, pigeons, an opossum, a fox and a bobcat named Tasha, has state and federal licenses to do their work and are renowned regionally for helping animals and educating the public.

Tuesday was to be their deadline for removing the animals, but Venditto said the Horvaths are "downsizing" the operation at their home. Cathy Horvath said she has moved the bobcat to an ecology center in Holtsville.

"I think this story's going to have a happy ending," Venditto said.

Meanwhile, Tuesday, a backer of the Horvaths' cause delivered to John Venditto's office in Oyster Bay hamlet a printout of an online petition signed by more than 30,000 people worldwide urging the supervisor to stop targeting the Horvaths.

Robin Lynn, 44, of Manhattan's Upper West Side, started the petition and said it totaled 1,100 pages as a hard copy.

She said she has never met the Horvaths, but wanted them to know they have support.

"These people have been nothing but helpful to the community at large," she said.

Venditto was not at his office at the time, but said that his talks with Bobby Horvath had begun before the supervisor learned of the petition.

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