NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Republican mayoral candidate and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota reportedly said this week that he did not think it was “appropriate” to shut down two subway lines for a pair of lost kittens.
Lhota said through a spokeswoman Friday that he did not think it was “appropriate to shut down an entire train line for an extended period of time” because of kittens, according to a New York Daily News report.
But the spokeswoman said Lhota believes the point would be moot, because the decision of whether to stop the subways would be up to the MTA chairman – the position Lhota used to hold – and not the mayor, the newspaper reported.
The remark prompted a headline that read in part, “Lhota would have let kittens get run over,” in the New York Post. Another Post headline called Lhota a “grinch.”
Meanwhile, a video posted to YouTube Saturday showed pictures of the kittens and gave Lhota’s campaign number, encouraging people to complain. The campaign number mailbox was full Saturday morning, 1010 WINS reported.
On Thursday, New York City transit workers were called in to cut power on part of the B/Q subway line at Church Avenue in Brooklyn, after a police officer spotted the kittens on the tracks.
The search caused delays and service suspensions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.
A photo from the scene showed a kitten perilously close to the dangerous, high-voltage third rail. Two police officers caught the kittens around 6 p.m. Thursday.
Some other mayoral candidates also have weighed in on whether stopping the subways was the right decision. Democrats Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner have all said they would have stopped the subway to rescue the kittens, the newspapers reported.
A spokeswoman for Weiner went so far as to say the candidate would “personally crawl over the third rail” for the rescue, the newspapers reported.
Republican John Catsimatidis told the Post he would let the MTA or police decide whether to shut down the subway, but noted that he had a cat that he still misses.
As for the kittens themselves – 8-week-old males named August and Arthur – they will go into foster care for a couple of weeks “for the socialization and TLC they need,” said Elisabeth Manwiller, manager of the Brooklyn Animal Care and Control Center.
The kittens were not yet available for adoption as of Saturday, but Animal Care and Control will review all applications and base its decision on the best home, Manwiller told 1010 WINS. Anyone interested in adopting the kittens was asked to go to the Animal Care and Control Web site or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cats were in good health, but were “shy and timid,” she said.
Manwiller said she thinks Lhota’s comments through his spokeswoman and the attention they have received is “great,” because it helps the animals.
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