DUNGENESS — Dungeness Wildlife Refuge Officer Dave Falzetti is a cat lover who has four rescued felines he keeps as pets at home.
So the issue of abandoned cats on public land really struck a chord with him when he was recently forced to trap two young felines illegally dumped at the wildlife refuge parking lot near Dungeness Spit.
They had become feral and hard to catch after four months, but he was glad they survived the harshest days of winter.
“Had we had a winter like last year, they probably wouldn’t have made it,” Falzetti said.
He is now taking care of the two small cats — one gray and one a darker brown tabby — which he believes are brother and sister because they look so much alike and showed up at the refuge together.
He hopes to find a home for them, perhaps at a farm where they can hunt mice outdoors as “barn cats.”
The cats are clean and free of fleas.
They wildly roamed the refuge, growing skittish of humans, and it took him a week to catch them in a wildlife drop-door trap where they were lured with food.
Anyone interested in adopting the cats can contact Falzetti at 360-457-8451.
Falzetti is quick to say that it is a federal offense to abandon any domesticated animal at the refuge, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The state and Clallam County also have jurisdiction at the refuge, adjacent to Dungeness Recreation Area, the county campground off Voice of America Boulevard, so those laws apply as well, he said.
“This is completely a human-caused problem,” said Falzetti, who been with Fish and Wildlife at the refuge since 2003.
“I think people just don’t realize the damage they are doing and how miserable these animals end up living and dying,” he said.
“People don’t realize they can be charged with everything from abandoning property to cruelty to animals.
“And it’s a huge waste of time, energy and money for taxpayers and charities.”
Once trapped, he said, they immediately used the cat litter box in their cage, which showed they were owned and house-broken before they were abandoned at the refuge.
Falzetti took them to the no-kill cat shelter operated by Peninsula Friends of Animals, a group he supports through donations.
There they were spayed and neutered under PFOA’s “trap, neuter and return” program.
Falzetti said the animal welfare group’s shelter, which safely harbors hundreds of cats a year and has plans to expand the facility at 257509 U.S. Highway 101 between Sequim and Port Angeles, is full and could not take in the cats he rescued.
hone 360-452-0414 to set up an appointment to see adoptable cats from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Phone 360-683-4697 for PFOA’s spay-neuter program.
Falzetti has not named the cats yet because he felt he could not bond with them but hopes someone will take them in and befriend them.
“I encourage people who can adopt a cat to do so,” Falzetti said.
________Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]