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Cat Lovers Pounce on Community Board as They Call for Greater Protection of Animals

Missing cats that use to lounge in Witty’s Yard

Feb. 20, 2014 By Michael Florio

Dozens of feral cats continue to go missing in Astoria and several residents are calling on local leaders to take action.

Many cat advocates spoke before Community Board 1 Tuesday night and could barely contain their outrage over the disappearance of the cats.  They graphically portrayed the plight of the lost cats and called on the board to help them find the cats as well as track down those people who may have hurt them.

Mary Witty, founder of an Astoria organization dedicated to finding the cats, claimed that more than 60 cats in the Ditmars area alone have gone missing in recent months. She said that in many cases entire colonies, similar to the one she looked after (consisting of 7 cats), have gone missing.

The community board told Witty and other cat supporters that it was limited in how much it could help. However, the board said she should come up with a resolution that the board can vote on, which it could then present to the New York City health and social services committee.

Witty said after that meeting that she plans to call for a resolution that would call on the NYPD to form a unit created solely for the purpose of handling animal cruelty calls.

“Crimes against humans get answered… so too should animal cruelty calls,” Witty said.

Witty told the board that she has heard that some of the 60-plus cats have been poisoned; others used in dog-fighting venues; captured for research; or even consumed.

Chris Pearsall, a cat advocate and Astoria resident, told the board that he found a sick kitten outside his apartment recently. “It was bleeding from the mouth and it was clear he had been poisoned. I took him to the vet to have him put down.”

“I won’t live in a community that allows these criminal acts to go unpunished,” Pearsall said.

However, there was one resident who spoke who was not a supporter of feral cats.  The resident said that feral cats do not belong in the community and if people want to take care of them they should do so in their own homes.

This created a stir in the pro-cat crowd with one person even screaming, “You do not belong in the neighborhood!”

Witty will present her plan to community board at the March meeting.

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