In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, the big hit song, Memory, ends with the line, “…a new day has begun.” The same can be said about a local institution; Island Cats has been reorganized by its co-founder, Rosanna Ceruzzi, and newly incorporated as Wildlife Freedom Foundation, Inc. WFF now encompasses the rescue and care of all animals, not just cats. Rosanna reports that she has been an animal lover ever since she was a small child in Rome, Italy, where she was born and raised. Rosanna is currently an Italian teacher at Hunter College and at the Italian Cultural Institute in Manhattan.
Her mission in life is to find and care for animals that can’t care for themselves and to help others understand how important it is that we, as caring adults, are aware of the needs of these animals. One example of the work that Rosanna does is the tale of a cat she named Teddy Bear. Late in the day last October, Rosanna received a call from a neighbor that a cat was trapped on the rocks down by the river. Passersby had heard the cat crying and determined that somehow it had gotten itself into a position where a five-foot high sheer wall prevented it from jumping out of danger. The tide was coming in and if something wasn’t done, the cat would drown.
Rosanna hurried to the scene and attempted to climb down to reach the rather large black and white cat. The high, sheer wall prevented her from reaching the animal. The cat sensed the incoming tide and began to whine piteously. Rosanna quickly called the Public Safety office but was told there was nothing they could do. She then called the police department and after some delay was told that help would be sent. By then darkness had fallen and visibility was poor. Eventually, a police department emergency rescue vehicle arrived with two police officers. They assessed the situation and one climbed down onto the rocks with a noose at the end of a four-foot pole, a standard device when dealing with an animal. The cat, which eventually proved to weigh twenty-six pounds was huddled in a ball at the base of the high wall, making it difficult for the officer to place the noose around the neck of the cat.
Rosanna pleaded with the officer to be quick once the noose was in place because she had known of at least one cat who had been choked to death in a similar situation. The officer assured Rosanna that once the noose was secured he would quickly lift the cat out of harm’s way. By now it was one o’clock in the morning and the incoming tide was an ever-present menace. Finally the officer succeeded in placing the noose around the neck of the cat. He tightened the choke hold and with one swift move lifted the cat from beneath the wall. The officer, a large, powerful man, lifted the cat and flipped it into Rosanna’s arms in one quick motion. She quickly undid the noose and hugged the terrified animal to her chest. Rosanna took the cat into her home and named him Teddy Bear because he was so cuddly. After a visit to the vet where he was cleaned up and had his fur untangled, Rosanna found a foster home for Teddy Bear, where he is now waiting for a permanent owner. Teddy Bear proved to be especially sweet-natured and affectionate and Rosanna is sure a loving home will eventually be found for him.
Rosanna surmises that Teddy Bear was a house cat who was either abandoned by its owner or somehow got separated from its home. Teddy Bear probably ended up on the rocks to escape the dangers it found as it roamed Roosevelt Island. Rosanna is dismayed at the number of cats and dogs who are abandoned by their owners each year on our Island. She urges all pet owners who wish to be rid of their animals to contact her via their website (http://www.wildlifefreedomfoundation.org/contact/) and she will arrange for someone to pick up the animal and take it to a safe place.
As a startup organization, WWF is in need of funds. Those wishing to contribute money can go to http://www.wildlifefreedomfoundation.org/donate.