Cat controversy in Lynbrook: Resident will have feral animals put down amid complaints, citations


Responding to complaints from neighbors, a Lynbrook resident said she plans to euthanize more than a dozen feral cats she sheltered and fed, after village officials removed garbage and animal waste from her property on July 17.

Department of Public Works employees found Marianne Kuhnle’s property, on Lakewood Boulevard, littered with garbage when they came to clean it. Kuhnle alleged that the DPW damaged her property, and is now speaking with an attorney about taking possible legal action, but added that she would take care of the cat problem. “I’m going to put them all down,” she said. “That’s what I’m going to be doing this week.”

One cat will go free, since Kuhnle finds it friendly and she believes it once had an owner. “The gray-and-white one,” she said, “I’m going to have him adopted."

Neighbors estimate that Kuhnle kept as many as 16 feral cats, which might have carried diseases, on her property. “Look in my front lawn — you’ll probably find four or five cat poops,” said George Harvey, who lives on Malden Avenue. “They’re there every morning.”

Harvey also said he found two litters of kittens on his lawn. he bottle-fed them for five weeks, but all of them died. Harvey, a cat owner himself, said their deaths led him to believe that the animals have diseases. Eventually, he said, he found a sickly cat and brought it to Kuhnle’s house. “[I] put it on [Kuhnle’s] stoop [and] said, ‘There’s a cat that looks like one of your cats [that] is dying out here,’” He recalled. “‘Maybe you want to do something about it.’”

After that experience, Harvey called Village Hall, which prompted Building Department Inspector Terry Daly to issue a citation against Kuhnle on June 30. It remains on Kuhnle’s front door. “All animals must be removed from premises,” it reads. “All food and water must be removed from rear yard. You must stop feeding pigeons and cats immediately.”

According to Brian Stanton, superintendant of the Building Department, Kuhnle did not comply with the citation, so the DPW removed garbage from her lawn in the hope that the cats’ shelter would be eliminated. Daly left another citation on Kuhnle’s door on July 17 after the property was cleaned. “Lynbrook DPW has removed litter, rubbish, garbage, junk and animal waste after homeowner ignored a posted notice of violation of village code,” the second citation reads.

Kuhnle said she believed the village workers cleared away more than garbage. She alleged that the DPW also nicked her car, cut her cable line, took her garbage cans and destroyed her grandfather’s bushes. Her cable, she said, has since been reactivated, but she was upset about the bushes. “My rhododendron in the front, he just mutilated it,” she said, referring to Daly.

Stanton denied that Building Department employees caused any damage. “We didn’t take any of her personal belongings,” he said, adding that he knew nothing about a damaged cable line. “It was debris that we disposed of. We were there to address the cats and the mess on the property.”

Mayor Bill Hendrick suggested that the bushes might have been cut down to get to the garbage. Harvey agreed. “They took four truckloads out of her property with the bushes and everything else, so that the cats don’t have safe harbor over there and to stop disease from spreading,” Harvey said. “It had to be cleaned out because there were fleas and mattresses.”

Kuhnle confirmed that there was garbage in the bushes, but said she was responsible for ony some of it. “If you look at the people to the right of me, they don’t have a cover on their garbage can,” she said. “If there was a wind, that garbage would have been in my bushes. … So, yeah, 10 to 20 percent of it is mine, and I know it because I don’t drink milk.”