Tags Posts tagged with "Frankie Floridia"

Frankie Floridia

Photo by Julianne Mosher

A pandemic couldn’t stop a group of local residents from growing their nonprofit. 

Established in 2010, Strong Island Animal Rescue is a 501c3 that focuses on answering local calls regarding injured, abused and neglected animals.

“We started out with cats and dogs, and then we saw a need for wildlife rescue,” said vice president of the rescue Erica Kutzing. 

Just last week, president of Strong Island Animal Rescue Frankie Floridia, of Port Jefferson Station, helped save a raccoon in Bohemia that was trapped in a car grill, after the driver hit it and got stuck.

Within minutes, Floridia and other volunteers safely removed the animal, who is expected to make a full recovery.

Frankie with a baby deer. Photo from Erica Kutzing

“We’re available 24, seven days a week for abandoned and abused animals,” he said. “We’re a local rescue that likes to give back to the community and we’re always here for everybody. That’s the way it’s been, and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Whether it’s a trapped raccoon, a deer with a paint can stuck on its head, a mother cat and her kittens found in a shed or an abused puppy left on the side of a road, Strong Island has dedicated their lives to helping animals. 

Kutzing, of Sound Beach, has more than two decades of animal rescue and animal medicine experience.  

“I think back to when I was 12-year-old little girl who started out more than 22 years ago,” she said. “And I don’t think I ever expected this to actually happen. It was always a dream, but seeing it come to fruition has been like an out of body experience — even though we’re doing it during a pandemic.”

Floridia said that the pandemic has made it hard for fundraising efforts, since before the lock downs they were able to hold events.

“It’s been a tough year for us, not having those events that we have usually every other month,” he said. “Fundraising is all based online now, and thank goodness for that, but we can’t wait to get back to having an event in the place and being able to do stuff like we did before.”

And just this month, they were gifted one generous donation — a new property.

Neighbors of Floridia, Valerie Rosini and Alan Haas, had owned a home in the area that they knew would help the group out. 

Right now, the location is under wraps while they clean up the space, but Floridia said he plans on using the three-acre property as a clubhouse and meeting space for their dozens of volunteers.

Erica Kutzing and Frankie Floridia in front of their secret new clubhouse in Port Jefferson, joined by pup Dolly, daughter Shea, Valarie Rosini and Alan Haas. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Surrounded by woods, wildlife roams the backyard, making it the perfect spot for animals to feel safe, while animal lovers plan their next move. 

“He wants to do something good,” Rosini said. “These guys don’t even take a salary.”

The couple said they could have sold the massive property to developers but knew that the cottage and woods surrounding it are special. If they cleared the area, birds, deer and other wildlife could have lost their home. When Rosini sold the spot to the volunteers, it became a new partnership and friendship of neighbors helping neighbors.

“Alan’s been coming down, Val’s been helping out the rescue … so it’s not only getting them motivated to be part of the rescue, as well,” Floridia said. “We’re all helping each other and we’re saving animals.”

Kutzing said the property will give them the ability to turn the space into an actual meeting space, instead of utilizing their homes. 

“Eventually we’ll be able to turn this into our dream,” she said. 

And the extra room will be helpful as the team gears toward their busy season — baby season. 

To keep doing what they’re doing, Strong Island is always looking for the public’s help in raising funds and donations. 

Floridia said people who want to contribute can follow Strong Island Animal Rescue on Facebook or Instagram, and visit strongislandanimalrescueleague.org.

“We’ve always been the type of group that gives to the community,” he said. “And hopefully, it’ll come back.”

A surprised rooster finds itself abandoned in the Heritage Park playground. Photo by Floridia

Four roosters, two adults and two young, were found abandoned in the Heritage Park playground Aug. 21. Town workers, police and animal rescue groups responded to take the animals away and give them sanctuary outside the town.

A Brookhaven town worker holds a fence up as animal rescuer Frankie Floridia takes them away. Photo from Floridia

Visitors to Heritage Park reported on social media finding the roosters Friday morning. Suffolk County Police were notified, and upon calling the North Shore-based Strong Island Rescue League around 10 a.m. a town worker was able to corral the animals into a corner of the playground while Frankie Floridia, the president of Strong Island, picked them up to put them in cages and transport them away. 

Floridia said the animals will either go to an animal sanctuary, or to families who wish to take care of them in townships where it is legal to own roosters.

The animal rescuer said there is a major issue in the Town of Brookhaven with people illegally abandoning animals such as domestic ducks in local ponds, but especially roosters. Mail order chickens have become an increasingly popular business, though some do not specify whether the chickens are male or female. The animal rescuer said they have come to calls for several abandoned roosters in Brookhaven over the past few years.

“What the people do, rather than get a fine is they go ahead and dump them,” Florida said. “The problem is dumping them, they can’t survive on their own in the wild. They are easy prey for predators, they get hit by cars, they have no food source. It’s a slow torturous death for them.”

Some online questioned whether the animals were runaways from the small farm just around the corner from The Wedge, aka Heritage Park. The roosters indeed did not come from Niegocki Farms, off of Mount Sinai Coram Road, but that small little taste of agriculture life on the North Shore has had major issues with people dumping chickens onto their property. 

Tricia Niegocki, of Niegocki Farms, said that they have had six occasions in the past few years where they found roosters dumped on their property. This includes an incident where an unknown individual dumped 26 hens over their fence “in the dead heat of summer” of about 95 degrees. 

“Anyone who knows us knows if it’s in our capabilities to be able to take hens off someone’s hands or help where we can,” Niegocki said. “By dumping them it was a three day ordeal in trying to catch them and pen them up in a pen we had to rush to get ready for them.”

Though the farm is often asked personally to look after chickens, especially roosters, another major issue with dumping roosters is the risk of disease spreading amongst a flock. This is especially concerning for a farm, which depends on those chickens as part of their livelihood, though leaving them to fend for themselves would only invite 

The farmer said the town code is partly to blame for the number of people who abandon these animals.

“A person’s dog can bark all day and night but a rooster is unacceptable? She said. “I think the laws need to change to be more accommodating. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, having the ability to feed your family is very important and chickens provide not only eggs but also a source of meat.”   

Strong Island Animal Rescue can be contacted at [email protected] or through their Facebook page.

To donate to Strong Island visit: https://www.strongislandanimalrescueleague.org/pages/donate-today

For more on the Mount Sinai farm, visit http://www.niegockifarms.com/

*This post was updated Aug. 24 to add information from the local Niegocki Farms about their own experiences with abandoned roosters.


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A raccoon in Centereach wandered into a backyard while its face was stuck in a peanut butter jar. Photo by Frankie Floridia

A raccoon with his face cramped tight in a peanut butter jar wandered onto a Centereach homeowner’s property Oct. 29, but luckily a local rescue group managed to save its life.

The homeowner contacted Frankie Floridia, the president of Strong Island Animal Rescue League, a Sound Beach-based animal rescue group, concerned for the creature’s life. By the time the rescuer arrived, the animal had disappeared. He then set up thermal cameras and told the Centereach resident to call him again if he heard anything more. At 3 a.m. Oct. 30, the creature appeared again, and this time climbed a tall tree. Floridia took a catchpole up a 20-foot ladder to nab the raccoon before getting down on the ground and physically removing the jar as the raccoon squeaked in fear.

“It was a high adrenaline moment,” Floridia said. “He was so strong, and that’s to say I’m not a light guy, I’m 175 pounds, but I was pulling and pulling, and we both came off, and I hit the ground hard.”

After the animal had calmed down, he gave one last gracious look to his two rescuers before scampering off. The raccoon even came back the next night for cat food from the homeowner.

Floridia said that raccoons often get their faces stuck in jars as they look for food. He added that the raccoon in Centereach most likely had been stuck for close to 24 hours, and it most likely did not have much time to live if it remained in that state without being able to breathe, eat or drink.

“I don’t think he had much longer to go,” he said.

Director pulls 15 felines from condemned home, waiting on adoptions to help more in cat colony

Three cats emerge from the bushes at a house in Port Jefferson after Save-A-Pet volunteers put out food Monday for the numerous cats living on the property. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Erica Kutzing has already pulled 15 cats from a condemned house and its surrounding property on Oakwood Road in Port Jefferson, but she said there are between 20 and 25 more left.

“And that’s of the ones that we can see.”

There could be more hiding — the property has a lot of foliage and the house is a mess. There are flies and cobwebs all over the junk inside, the ceiling is coming down in some places and there is a strong smell, partly of cat urine.

Dori Scofield nets an injured gray kitten, and Frankie Floridia and Erica Kutzing help her put it into a crate. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Dori Scofield nets an injured gray kitten, and Frankie Floridia and Erica Kutzing help her put it into a crate. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Kutzing, director of operations at Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station, would like to continue taking the friendly cats back with her to the shelter, but it is full. Her operation on Oakwood Road is partly on hold until some people start adopting the animals and free up space. Until then, with the permission of the owner, she visits the site every day to deliver food and clean water, and to help the cats that need it the most.

The first day she brought food to the house, she said, “they swarmed us,” and the cats tried to chew through the bags of food. “They were starving.” In the roughly three weeks since she started feeding them — with donations from the community — she estimates they’ve each gained about five pounds.

On Monday, Kutzing brought the usual five cans of wet food and full bag of cat food to Oakwood Road. A couple of cats watched as she cleaned aluminum trays filled with muddy rainwater from a storm the night before and replaced the dirty water with the food, with the help of volunteers Frankie Floridia and his son Dylan Inghilleri. Then other felines started to emerge from bushes and windows and below a dumpster on the front lawn.

Cats eat at a house in Port Jefferson after Save-A-Pet volunteers put out food. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Cats eat at a house in Port Jefferson after Save-A-Pet volunteers put out food. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Most of the animals, Kutzing said, are the property owner’s pets. While he loves them and his pet ownership started with the best intentions, “cats can breed faster than you can stop them.” Some of those still at the house are friendly, but they have become wild because of their living situation.

The Port Times Record reported in November that there once also were four Alaskan huskies on the property, but they were removed when firefighters investigating smoke found unsafe conditions inside the house. That’s when it was condemned.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, four misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty are still pending against the owner.

Dori Scofield, director of the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center and founder and president of Save-A-Pet, said there are many houses like this all over the town and the country, where people have good intentions that “go haywire,” and their properties are overrun with animals. “They get in over their heads.”

Scofield was the one who first received a call, in her role with the town, about the house and went to investigate.

She was also at the site Monday, and netted a 6-month-old gray kitten that Kutzing said had a broken tail and possibly a broken pelvis.

A female kitten at a house in Port Jefferson named Pinot came out to see rescue volunteers, who visit the property every day. Photo by Elana Glowatz
A female kitten at a house in Port Jefferson named Pinot came out to see rescue volunteers, who visit the property every day. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Kutzing explained that it was painful for the kitten to walk and “with every step her lower end drops to the floor.” She added when the kitten eats her daily deliveries, usually she will lie down in the aluminum tray.

Monday, the cat ate from outside the tray, but she sneezed multiple times throughout her meal. Kutzing explained that the kitten also has an upper respiratory infection.

After Scofield quickly threw the net over the gray kitten, Kutzing and Floridia helped her put the kitten into a carrier to take back to Save-A-Pet for treatment. Afterward, she will likely be released back at the house.

Scofield said she didn’t want to see the cats stay at the condemned house permanently, and it would be ideal for someone with a barn to take in the feral cats.

Kutzing stressed the need for adoptions and that the cats at Save-A-Pet that had been pulled from the Oakwood Road house have been medically cleared and are good with other cats “because it’s all they know.” The organization needs homes for both the young cats and the older ones, she said, adding that older cats can be positive because they know how to use a litter box and owners will already know the cats’ personalities.

Scofield also stressed that people who find themselves with a large number of animals “shouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help,” either from Save-A-Pet or Brookhaven Animal Shelter. “We’ll do whatever we can to help them.”

Kutzing urged against concerned residents visiting the Oakwood Road property on their own. She said it would be trespassing and she doesn’t want anyone “to hinder our trapping by scaring the cats,” because they are now comfortable around the volunteers.