BROOKLYN — The search continues for a colony of feral cats that was allegedly dumped at two Brooklyn Parks.
For five years, the colony of about 20 cats, has been living among the buildings of Industry City in Sunset Park Brooklyn. Tenant Mariana Nuziale registered the colony online in 2013, after trapping the cats, and having them spayed and neutered.
The cats have been receiving food, water and medical care from a community of caregivers including Nunziale and security guards Jennifer Petito and Robert Stevens.
“Nobody bothered them.” says Nunziale. “They were happy. They were being fed. They were in their environment.”
However, about a month ago, the caregivers were shocked to learn the 20 cats had been forcibly taken from Industry City.
“We were not informed. It was done abruptly, overnight”, says Stevens. “They were trapped in raccoon cages and just swept up and allegedly discarded in two parks at the opposite ends of Brooklyn. We scoured those parks and there’s no sign of those animals. “
The cats were taken by Squash Exterminating of Brooklyn. The company was hired by Industry City because a flea problem had developed in some buildings scheduled for renovation. Industry City’s CEO Andrew Kimball says the exterminator was asked “ to move the cats from one place to another.”
“This contractor said it had all appropriate licensing in place and experience doing this”, says Kimball. “Obviously they didn’t because the cats have disappeared.
Instead of taking the cats to an animal control center where they could be treated for fleas and returned to Industry City, Squash Exterminating trapped the cats and allegedly took them to Gerritsen Beach Park and Leif Erickson Park, near the Belt Parkway , and released them.
“Obviously we got this one wrong” says Kimball, “And we got it wrong by hiring the wrong contractor to handle the situation.” The exterminator was fired.
PIX11 was unable to reach anyone at Squash Exterminating for comment.
The cat colony’s community of caretakers also blames Industry City’s management because it didn’t notify the caretakers of the flea problem and ask for help, before hiring an exterminator. Kimball says he didn’t know that help was available.
“We were not aware of this community before. We should have been.” Kimball may not have been aware, but other company executives were. PIX11 has learned that last year, an Industry City manager asked caretaker Robert Stevens for help with a flea problem.
New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan says she’s going to introduce legislation setting up an official registry of feral cat colonies.
“Building owners would be required to check that registry before they take any action on a cat colony,” she says. “Going forward, mistakes like this will not be made again.”