Categories: volunteers

Woman does TNR the hard way in New York City because of coronavirus crisis

Latonya Walker, an heroic individual who cares for feral cat colonies in NYC during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Pete Thompson Photography.

This woman is heroic. Her name is Latonya “Sassee” Walker, 50. She works for the New York City Health and Hospitals in billing. Everyone knows that New York City is going through a torrid time with a very high level of infections and deaths from Covid-19. The ASPCA has stopped doing free spays and neuters for feral cats because they are closed. Normally a lot of elderly people feed the city’s feral cat colonies under TNR programs but they can no longer do this because they are vulnerable under coronavirus conditions and therefore can’t leave their homes.

And there is the ever-present danger of catching Covid-19 which can kill. This is the tough background under which Latonya cares for NYC’s feral cats.

Latonya has stepped up to the plate and it almost seems that she has single-handedly filled the void created by the loss of these other services. She takes care of four feral cat colonies near where she lives and a few more elsewhere. She buys dry and wet cat foods and spends about $600 per month but she says it’s going to be more this month because there is less restaurant garbage that the feral cats usually feed on.

She has to get the cats spayed and neutered privately in Coney Island were she receives a big discount. She reports that she has already spent $500 on neutering and other services this month. The financial burden and the demands on her time are substantial. Latonya has seven pet cats and six feral cats who are recovering from surgery. Why does she do it?

Her answer is that it is not in her DNA to see a cat suffering and not do anything about it. She is a heroine in my opinion. The reason that she gives is one that I hear all the time. Some people can’t ignore the suffering of vulnerable animals. It drives them hard and the burden is immense.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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