Kittens arouse officers' protective instincts
3 animals abandoned on V-N Bridge get TLC -- and the 2 who survived get homes
Monday, August 11, 2008
By MAURA YATES
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Maybe they should pack catnip in their holsters.
It seems that in separate incidents, three kittens were tossed out of vehicles halfway across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, only to be scooped up by animal-loving MTA Bridge and Tunnel police officers.
Two cute and fuzzy 2-month-old calico kittens were adopted by the officers. Sadly, the third kitten was so badly injured that it had to be put down.
The first incident occurred two weeks ago.
Alerted by motorists who saw a kitten huddling against the roadway's wall, Officer Trevor Gibson of Arden Heights slowly drove his patrol car across the upper level until he found the little cat, midspan.
"It was up against the wall, scared to death," said Sgt. Kenny Winslow of Bay Terrace.
From his trunk, Gibson pulled out a pair of gloves and a blanket, and gently placed the kitten in a box. It was brought to Rosebank Animal Hospital, but the kitten's injuries were so serious, it had to be euthanized.
A few days later, a kitten was rescued on the upper level by Officers Joseph Dahl and Rosario Marino. This story has a happier ending.
On-duty a few miles away at the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Officer Carlos Martinez, whose 17-year-old cat died recently, heard the news of the rescue over his radio and called back to the bridge officers that he wanted to adopt the kitten.
"Any cat that survives the upper level deserves a second chance," Martinez said.
The officer said he named the kitten "Miley," after his 6-year-old daughter Victoria's favorite pop star, Miley Cyrus.
After Miley's rescue, Officer Sabatino Ilardo of South Beach was on patrol when he saw a kitten curled up against the curb on the lower level.
He, too, tried to scoop up the cat in a blanket, but it ran away from him and jumped onto a support pillar overhanging the water. With nowhere else for the kitten to go but down, the officer was able to grab it. Officer Anthony Giacchi of Fort Wadsworth dubbed the little cat "Elle," as in the double L of lower level.
The kittens were treated for free by Dr. Christine Brognano of Rosebank Animal Hospital. Elle will remain at the vet's office for a while longer while she recovers from ringworm, fleas and ear mites.
Then, she's going home with Officer John Esposito of Graniteville -- and she's not the first pet he has brought home from work.
The self-proclaimed "cat freak," who sports a cat tattoo on his leg, rescued another cat a while back, found, appropriately enough, on the bridge's catwalk. A co-worker took the cat home and named her -- drumroll, please -- Bridget.
The officers believe the cats were most likely thrown out of moving cars.
Since they were found midway across the country's longest suspension bridge, "I doubt the mother cat left them there," Winslow said.
The kitten rescues are just the latest in the Verrazano's walk on the wild side.
From the peregrine falcons roosting above, the poison ivy-eating goats grazing below and the raccoons, dogs, and turkeys that have been rounded up on the roadway over the years, the call of the wild is all in a day's work for its crews.
Maura Yates covers transportation news for the Advance. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org