Ridgewood Rescue, a new local nonprofit organization, was created in the fall of 2021 with the hopes of finally dedicating a united effort to combat the staggering stray cat population in the area.
E Garcia has lived in Ridgewood for about eight years and said they quickly recognized an issue with the number of stray cats in the neighborhood.
“In the time I’ve been here, it feels like it just got worse and worse,” Garcia said.
Before starting the nonprofit, Garcia found kittens in their backyard but couldn’t foster them and find safe homes. Then, Garcia heard that other neighbors had the same issue, but no unified effort could make a real impact.
“There are colonies everywhere, and there just aren’t enough resources to tackle the issue on the scale that it needs to be approached at in order to make a lasting difference,” Garcia said.
Finally, Garcia created the Ridgewood Rescue alongside other concerned community members.
Ridgewood Rescue primarily focuses on TNR, which stands for trap, neuter and return — a proven method to reduce stray cat populations. This practice includes trapping strays, getting them spayed or neutered, as well as vaccinated and ear clipped, and then returning them to the area they were in unless it is unsafe.
Currently, Ridgewood Rescue is working to save a colony of about 11 stray cats in the neighborhood. And through private donations, the nonprofit will get all cats fixed and returned.
The nonprofit also works to socialize and adopt cats in need of a home. Garcia said they have been getting a lot of reports of abandoned cats and has made a concerted effort to educate the public on options other than dumping cats in the streets.
“We want people to know there are better options,” Garcia said. “We help people get their cats fixed, educate folks about safety and what to do with cat behavioral issues — anything reason why people are dumping cats we want to stop that practice and make a better life for all of the cats that live here.”
Ridgewood Rescue does not have a physical space to operate out of; instead, it relies on about 30 volunteers to foster the cats. In the future, Garcia plans to grow Ridgewood Rescue into a full-time job, continuing to fundraise through campaigns and events. Ridgewood Rescue is also working on getting a 501(c)(3) status to become a tax-exempt organization.
“I’m trying to connect with as many people in the neighborhood who care about the cats, and luckily there have been quite a lot,” Garcia said. “We lost our family business this fall because of COVID, and it was hard figuring out what I was going to do with my life. It feels amazing not only to be doing this kind of service work but to be doing it in my own community.”
This story was updated Jan. 7, 2022 at 10:40 a.m.