Bayonne is in the process of setting up a trap, neuter, and release (TNR) program to cope with the feral cat problem, but the details are still being worked out.
The City Council withdrew a resolution that would have authorized a contract with the NJ Humane Society for $25,000. Based in West New York, the NJ Humane Society run by Geoffrey Santini operates animal control for the city after the council approved the contract earlier this year.
“We do have a feral cat problem that we need to address in Bayonne, not just ignore,” Santini said. “It’s not going away.”
However, Santini had asked the council to table the resolution for the time being.
“We are trying to employ this TNR in Bayonne for the first time,” Santini said. “But at this time, I am going to ask to table it because we need to get together with the health department and all the rescues who would want to be involved in this. There’s only $25,000, so it’s going to be stretched as thin as possible and only be used for neutering, spaying, and rescuing feral cats.”
Santini said there are a number of cat rescues in Bayonne, and he wants to make sure everyone is one the same page.
“So there’s no ‘Why are you doing ten cats here,’ or ‘Why are there 15 cats over here,’ or ‘What am I getting,’” Santini said. “It’s not what you’re getting, it’s how can we put it all together and make it work. Because if its works, then we can allocate more money for the TNR.”
Location in Bayonne?
NJ Humane Society is also eyeing a TNR site in Bayonne. He said the organization is looking into using the old boathouse at end of the parking lot at 16th Street Park, but there were some issues with the building.
“It would help the people of Bayonne because it’s a local facility, it’s better than trucking to West New York,” Santini said.
In the past, the facility was used for cat-related needs.
“It was used to feed a cat colony already,” said Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski. “There was cat medical supplies in there. That’s what it had been used for at one point.”
However, the building does not have heating or water.
“We’re trying to locate the waterline to see if we can get water to the building,” Department of Public Works Director Tom Cotter said. “Our biggest problem where our location is near a park, we shut off water on October 1. So finding a water and heat source is what we’re going to need. We’re looking into tapping into that bathroom.”
Santini said the building has electricity and can host an electric heater, so it needs only water.
“It’s like a shed almost,” Cotter said. “Eight by ten on the inside.”
“It’s somewhere to start to get the program going,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “We tried to get this program off the ground a number of times. We have the money allocated. The thought process is, we’ve got to start somewhere, even if it’s a tiny little thing.”
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, until there is a location in Bayonne, the cats will go elsewhere.
“Right now, we’re going to start it where we’re probably going to house them offsite, at another one of your locations,” she said. “The cost is more. The inconvenience to the people who are volunteering there time for that is also a consideration. But as we get started, they can ask for corporate sponsors and more money they can get to help grow it. Once we get something out there, we will be able to grow with cash donations.”
Third Ward Councilman Gary LaPelusa was in favor of the program getting a bigger location.
“I didn’t know you were looking into that,” LaPelusa said, noting he had advocated for more money for the program, successfully raising funding in the budget from $20,000 to $25,000. “I would be in favor of expanding to an even bigger shed to start off with.”
Santini said, “It’s a start. It could be expanded, but we have to be able to implement and do it right, so it doesn’t become a disaster and everybody says ‘Oh it didn’t work, let’s forget about it.’ I want to try to do it right, go through the health department and get all these rescues together and put everyone’s knowledge into it… We need to get all the parts together so there’s no infighting. No North Korea/South Korea of the cats…
“Next year, there could be sponsors, there could be more money allocated. We just want it to work… If we ever expanded this building if the program worked, this would be a nice location because it’s away from people and in a beautiful setting, and we can make it right. We just have to put it together right and prepare it.”
“As one of the rescues here, Bayonne Feral Cat Foundation, it’s really very important that we have a facility here, rather than have to transport,” Kathleen Henderson of the Bayonne Feral Cat Foundation said. “The time, the cost, it’s just eats up the money that is available for the cats. We can get the volunteers. There are plenty of people who want to do this TNR with us. They will volunteer to take care of the cats in the building. It will work out for everybody. But the people of Bayonne are not going to want to trek to West New York; it’s got to be here.”
“We will table it and give you the additional time you need to work with the rescues,” Ashe-Nadrowski said.
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