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L.I. Town Tells Couple They Must Move Animal Rescue Operations Elsewhere

Oyster Bay Supervisor Appreciates Efforts, But Says There Are Safety Concerns
Cathy Horvath holds a possum being rehabilitated after it was hit by a car. (credit: CBS 2)

Cathy Horvath holds a possum being rehabilitated after it was hit by a car. (credit: CBS 2)

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MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — For decades, a Long Island couple have rescued animals that no one else knows what to do with — wild animals that get hurt flying and crawling around the concrete jungle.

But now, they’ve been told their rescue must move.

For 20 years, Cathy Horvath and her husband have been coming to the rescue of wild animals that fall victim to urban hazards, including a possum hit by a car, a red-tail hawk tangled in infrastructure.

There have been foxes, owls, bats and even a de-clawed bobcat.

Their suburban backyard on North Wyoming Avenue is a temporary home.

“We’re called on to do a job that nobody else wants to do and now we’re getting punished for it,” Horvath, of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

They are licensed and called upon by parks departments and animal control officials from Manhattan to Montauk to rehabilitate and return the animals to the wild, while educating school kids in the process.

And they do it all for free.

But their work in the town will soon have to end. The Horvaths have been told they have until Tuesday to clear out the animals because it violates Oyster Bay town code to house them in a residential neighborhood.

“I appreciate what they’re doing. I think the general consensus is it shouldn’t be done in a densely populated, suburban, residential community,” said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.

The town supervisor said there have been complaints about animal noise and safety concerns, but not from neighbors that spoke with Gusoff.

“I have no complaints. I have two rescue dogs myself. I think it’s a great thing saving animals,” said neighbor Victoria Hahnon.

“Rarely, rarely, rarely do you hear a noise from back there,” another neighbor said.

The Horvaths said the animals are caged around the clock.

“People say wild animals and everybody gets scared, but they are contained, there is nothing loose, and they live in our environment,” Cathy Horvath said.

Their Facebook page is now filled with supporters hoping for a reprieve.

With a deadline looming, the town supervisor said he’s hoping a compromise can be worked out and an alternate location can be found for them to do their important work, as long as it’s not in a residential neighborhood.

An online petition to save “Wildlife In Need Of Rescue and Rehabilitation” has more than 2,600 signatures.

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