Locals Network to Rescue Cat From East River Barge

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Neighborhood resident Clotilde Testa heard meowing from a barge and reached out to the community for help through an online local news entity. Two days later Leo the cat was rescued by Clotilde herself along with a small group of helpers.

Clotilde Testa was walking in the East Village in Manhattan on July 2 and noticed a large number of stray cats near the waterfront. One cat could be heard crying out from the off-shore industrial area opposite the East River Environmental Learning Center.

Ms. Testa recently moved to NY from London, so didn’t know where to turn to get help for the stranded cat, whose cries compelled her to action. She reached out to the EV Grieve local online news and resource site looking for help or direction. A post in the EV Grieve resulted in some suggestions meant to assist in finding help for the cat, along with an irrelevant discussion of the relative merits of helping the homeless people or the cats one encounters. It also resulted in assistance from several people who pitched in to rescue the plaintive cat.

Unfortunately, at the rescue plan’s outset, calls and direct appeals on the street to police and fire services did not bring help, nor did calls to the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC). Since CACC is a kill facility, it was determined to be a good thing that they were not interested in the cat.

After the July 4 rescue Ms. Testa bemusedly informed the commenters at EV Grieve that she had taken care of the matter along with a small group, and that she would be adopting the cat. The other rescuers included animal advocate Christine Berk, shown in the photo at top, and animal rescuer Joseph Newman, who drove in from Pennsylvania, plus two others.

Backtracking to the rescue effort, one woman tried to help on Saturday July 2nd by straddling a ladder across to the barge in hoped that the cat could climb across it even though it was unsafe for people. That attempt did not work out.

The cat would come out and cry when people walked by, making it appear that he wanted to be rescued.

By Sunday the 3rd, animal advocate Carol Berk had joined the effort and a group of rescuers had made it over to the large barge and were searching for the cat. Though the day before it was hoped that the Coast Guard would come and help, by this time the rescuers were concerned the guard would show up and force them to leave.

The small crew searched the filthy cluttered barge for five hours before locating the hungry, stranded cat. Ms. Berk describes the cat, as scruffy, skinny and unneutered when found, but of good disposition and not showing aggression. He had obviously been trapped on the barge with nothing to eat, unable to get off.

By mid-afternoon, Animal control had shown up, causing concern that they’d find the cat and take him to their kill facility. CACC did end up leaving with the cat, but by that time someone from the Daily News had come out to report on the situation, which is considered to have created pressure for animal control to spare the cat and make him available for adoption.

Rescuers were glad to have made sure that Leo, as they named him, had eaten some nourishing wet food before he was taken away by animal control, and they were determined to reclaim him.

We have been reminded in following this story that ACC has a terrible reputation for killing animals for the slightest reason, and some fretted for Leo that he might bite a worker out of fear; in which case he would be history. The facility also has such a poor profile in the public mind that it was suggested that conditions on the barge were more clean and healthful.

Naturally, there was concern that the cat might not survive custody until someone could visit him  and attempt to adopt him out on Tuesday, when the facility reopened to the public.

Christine later congratulated the little group on their successful team effort, complete with disregard for questions of tresspassing and their own safety.

Leo remains at CACC, due to a three day hold policy and a mandate that he be neutered and vaccinated, and Clotilde expects to adopt him when he is released on Friday. Many eyes are focused on the facility to insure that the little cat stays alive and is released to the woman who first heard his cries for help and came to his rescue.


UPDATE 7/8: Leo was successfully adopted by Clotilde and went home with her on Friday, as hoped and as planned.

Clotilde visiting the cat she hopes to take home with her on Friday.

0 thoughts on “Locals Network to Rescue Cat From East River Barge”

  1. What an amazing rescue story. Thanks to everyone who rescued Leo and for watching out for him. He is going to be loved and cared for because of these wonderful people.

  2. God bless you Clotilde: ). The world needs more caring people like you!!! Thank you for taking action and saving this poor creature.

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