Rescue groups trying to alter and vaccinate every Riverhead stray

04/15/2013 12:00 PM |
FEral Cats in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter holds his new puppy, ‘Bandit,’ alongside Pam Green of Kent and Al LaFrance of SAVES, a North Fork feline humane organization.

Kent Animal Shelter and SAVES rescue groups have teamed up to put a huge dent into feral cat breeding in Riverhead Town.

Pam Green, the Calverton shelter’s executive director, said the shelter received a Petsmart grant of $20,250 to accomplish this goal last year, and volunteers have been working ever since to trap and spay or neuter, and then vaccinate, cats throughout the town.

There are approximately 450 feral cats in the town, she said, so the financials work out to about $50 for each cat.

The boundaries for the colonies that were identified are Edwards Avenue in the west, Route 105 in the east, Middle Road in the north and Main Street in the south.

Al LaFrance, a Mattituck resident and a SAVES (Spay Alter Vaccinate Every Stray) nonprofit official, has been working with volunteers to trap cats every two or three weeks and take them to Kent to be fixed and vaccinated.

The cats then recuperate in his basement, after which he reintroduces them to their colonies, where they are fed by volunteer caretakers.

He started last October and now the group is halfway through the gargantuan effort, having spayed 208 cats so far.

“This is a good example of cooperative partnership of two animal rescue groups coming together in the first-ever massive effort to reduce the number of feral kittens that would have been born this spring,”  Mr. LaFrance said at Kent last Thursday.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter stopped by Kent Animal Shelter that afternoon to commend Ms. Green and Mr. LaFrance on the program.

“I think it is a wonderful thing,” he said. “I had no idea that we had these large colonies of feral cats. It is not fair to the cats or the community. Having the cats pregnant and them having to feed their kittens is a horrific thing.”

Mr. Walter was also at Kent, on River Road, to pick up a 9-week-old shepherd mix puppy his sons had picked from photos Mr. Walter had taken during a prior visit.

The Walters decided to name the dog “Bandit.”

Anyone in Riverhead or Southold towns who identifies a feral cat colony can call the SAVES help line (631) 722-0015.

photo@timesreview.com