Hundreds of feral cats call Tonawanda Island home, prompting the nickname ‘Cat Island’ along with volunteers placing cat shelters across the island for the cats. Some volunteers are calling foul, however, saying a set of those shelters were recently destroyed.
Advocates said a restaurant on the island is to blame, but the owner said it was an accident.
Pets Alive WNY said the owner of the Marina and the Shores restaurant bulldozed over shelters on the property, including feeders and water stations.
Nearly two years ago, Danielle Coogan, started Operation Island Cats to raise funds to purchase cat shelters for the hundreds of cats that roamed around the island. Residents said there was an infestation of unwanted cats and Coogan set off to fix the problem.
Coogan said she and the restaurant owner, Mike Charnock, worked out a verbal agreement that would allow her to put the shelters on his section of the island.
“I mean it’s his property, if he doesn’t want the cats here, I totally understand that, but all it would have taken was a phone call and we would have relocated the shelters,” said Coogan. “I just think it’s kind of senseless to destroy property that doesn’t belong to them and that we were given permission to place here.”
Charnock declined to go on camera for an interview, but he did tell News 4 that there was never an agreement. The restaurant’s Facebook page said the shelters were accidentally destroyed after being told his old boats had to be removed from the property after a fire last year. Those boats were removed with a bulldozer.
Coogan said all she wants is the shelters replaced.
“I have no issues with the owner or the restaurant personally, I just wanted to help cats,” said Coogan. “I’m hoping that the owner will replace the shelters that were damaged.”
Pets Alive WNY has started a donation page to raise money to replace the cat shelters. Each shelter costs about $150. Their goal is to relocate the cats to another part of the island.
Officials said no cats were harmed during the wreckage.
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