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strong island rescue

Local animal activists and Brookhaven town to set up the new task force in March. File photo by Kyle Barr

Town of Brookhaven TNR [trap-neuter-return] Task Force, which started up as a pilot program in March, has already spayed and neutered 113 cats in the local area in April, according to Erica Kutzing, one of the heads of the task force and animal rescuer with Strong Island Animal Rescue League.

Erica Kutzing, of Strong Island Rescue and Brookhaven’s TNR Task Force, spoke at PJ Village’s July 20 meeting.

On a call with the Port Jefferson village board July 20, Kutzing said 113 cats no longer producing kittens means an exponential decline in the number of feral cats (aka community cats) crowding local areas.

While in the grand scheme of the many thousands of feral cats in local communities 113 may seem paltry, every neutered or spayed cat is potentially a way to slow the growth of feral communities. Kutzing said they have trapped, neutered and returned 40 feral cats back into their homes in Port Jefferson. Of those 40, if 20 are female, that means those cats can no longer produce five additional kittens per litter; and if a cat produces two litters per year, neutering 20 potentially prevents 200 more cats on the streets.

“Every neighborhood has a feral cat,” Kutzing said. “They usually hide, and you don’t see them, but there are feral cats all over the place.”

The Brookhaven voted to create the task force back in March, providing $60,000 that all goes to the costs of paying a veterinarian to perform the procedures. Kutzing, who works with Katrina Denning, the founder of Jacob’s Hope Rescue, and cat enthusiast Jenny Luca all work on a voluntary basis. They said the pandemic put their plans on hold, but they plan to be out again in August.

Though she said some locals may be hesitant to contact them, Kutzing emphasized there is no charge to the homeowner and they are professionals who know how to capture the felines without harming them. Though some residents may want the rescuers to move the cats from the area, taking an animal like a feral cat away from its habitat is considered abuse and is against the law.

The TNR Task Force can be contacted online at its Facebook page by searching TNR Taskforce of Brookhaven.

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President of Strong Island Rescue Frankie Floridia stands with the Bakewicz family after delivering the calves to the farm Feb. 13. Photo from Frankie Floridia

A North Shore-based animal rescue group has managed to save two young calves before they were slaughtered at a New Jersey farm, and now the animals have found sanctuary with a Wading River farm.

The young Calves Woody (green) and Buzz (blue). Photo from Justin Bakewicz

Frankie Floridia, president of the nonprofit animal rescue group Strong Island Rescue, said he learned about one of the animals from being tagged in a Facebook post. The four-day-old calf was born in Amish country in New Jersey, but was to be sent off to slaughter to not waste the mother’s milk production. Floridia drove up there and learned there was another calf, roughly the same age, that they could also save from the slaughterhouse.

“The Amish had taken [it] away from its mother because it was a male, and they don’t need the calves — they don’t want to waste the milk they’re selling.,” he said.

Back on Long Island, Justin Bakewicz, a member of the family-owned Bakewicz farm in Wading River, had recently experienced a terrible loss. Bakewicz had purchased two, four-month-old calves in January. The health of one of them, named Bo Duke, started to fail. The family brought the calf to Jefferson Animal Hospital in Port Jefferson, and then brought him home and kept it in their kitchen while theyconnected him with an IV and gave him constant shots. Unfortunately, the calf passed away Feb. 8.

“It was a real big disappointment to me, my family and the community — everyone was a big part of it,” Bakewicz said.

Only a few days later, people started to tag the farm owner on the Facebook post about the calves Strong Island Rescue had saved. Bakewicz said his mother, Marianne, thought it might be too soon for new calves, but once he saw the scampering young Jersey bull calves he knew they were right for him.

“We heard that Bakewicz had a calf that passed away a couple days ago, and [Justin] was saying ‘it was like fate,’” Floridia said.

Justin Bakewicz, left, helps feed the calves Woody (green) and Buzz (blue). Photo from Justin Bakewicz

Bakewicz said the two young animals are full of energy.

“The two babies — they’re like puppies,” he said. “One is one week old he’s so full of Vitamin D and I turned around, and there was the other one. I said, ‘well I can’t say no. I got to take them both.’”

The farm owner has taken to raising the calves in his own house where he feeds them from large milk bottles three times a day. Bakewicz has even taken them out for walks.

“I’m walking these things like dogs,” Bakewicz said. “I walked them around my block today and every neighbor was sticking their heads outside going ‘what the hell is that I thought it was a Great Dane.’ Everybody in the neighborhood is excited to watch them grow.”

It will be another week or two of watching the young bulls grow large enough they can move out to the farm.

The farmer asked the community for suggestions of names, and it has settled on Buzz and Woody, after the movie “Toy Story.” The names were suggested by Christin Paparelli Santillo who will receive a free t-shirt.