The Hawthorne Racetrack is the oldest family run racetrack in North America, and as in most barns where horses live and eat, stray and feral cats commonly take up residence. Regarded as valuable assets, the hunting felines expertly control the ever consistent rodent population. And quite often as in the kitty lay of the land, many of the cats have been left homeless after horse owners and their families have moved away after the end of the season.
Carrie Gobernatz, a horse woman and passionate animal rescuer, has been helping to rescue, rehome and save the feral and stray cats of the backside of the track for the last seven years. Suddenly last week the rules changed, and Gobernatz was ordered to cease feeding the 40 remaining cats in all areas except for two designated spots.
According to Chicagonow.com, Carrie and her daughter have been spending approximately $130 a week of their own money to feed and care for the cats. And what they do is just not a haphazard duo of two crazy “cat ladies.” Carrie is a registered colony caretaker for Cook County and works legally with shelters to spay, neuter, release and makes sure all the cats are vaccinated.
“Earlier this week, I had contacted the race track to talk about the work being done at other tracks with TNR programs and feral cat colonies,” she said. “I sent them links and wanted to set up a meeting to see if we could do the same thing; maybe take donations and get me some help. When I arrived at the track the next day, I was told that I was now being restricted to two areas.”
The following day Carrie was told to remove all of the cats.
When other animal advocacy groups have now offered to step in, they also have been refused entry onto the racetrack property.
“If I can’t trust them to let me on the property to feed the cats, we need to set up a program to move the cats from the barns and backside. It can be done, but it’s not an easy proposition. We need to find a place that can take the colonies and take steps to make sure that goes smoothly.”
And on Friday, in a desperate plea to animal lovers everywhere, Carrie’s Facebook page reflected more tragic news:
“The owner Tim Carey told me he wants me to get all the cats out. But now they kicked me completely out. I am not allowed to feed or go on the property at all. This is day 4 and my cats are starving…Tim Becker, the manager of the backside, says he hates cats and that they will get eaten by the coyotes. Yesterday he told me he does not give a damn about those cats…”
And then a special blind cat, who Carrie has a deep emotional attachment for, is also suffering which makes the pain of this news even more devastating:
“My heart is broken. After just feeding in those 2 areas, on my way out I stopped to feed and medicate a blind feral cat named Cheeto, and I had a trap because Treehouse in Chicago said their vet could look at him for me. Dennis Taylor, the Head of Security, said NO I could not care for him. Cheeto sat there just waiting for me; he didn’t even get food and water let alone the Clavamox I had already mixed in some wet food for him.
Click here for the Facebook page, Save the Hawthorne Kittys.
Tim Carey, Owner President & General Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
John Walsh Assistant General Manager email@example.com
Jeffrey Kras Chief Financial Officer firstname.lastname@example.org
Dennis Taylor Director of Security email@example.com
Rhonda Sosnowski Marketing Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 S. Laramie, Stickney/Cicero, IL 60804 – (708) 780-3700
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