After Levin’s daring rescue of abused cat in Brooklyn, praise and outrage

March 31, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Councilmember Stephen Levin received praise this week for his daring rescue of an abused cat on the BQE. Photos courtesy of BARC Shelter
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City Councilmember Stephen Levin’s rescue of an abused and terrified cat on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) late Friday has drawn praise for the councilmember and outrage from animal advocates, who want the perpetrator found before he or she strikes again.

“If anyone saw anything on the BQE or recognizes this cat, come forward so the person who did this can be caught,” said Vinny Spinola, founder and owner of BARC Shelter (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition), an animal shelter in Williamsburg.

The amazing story of the cat’s rescue began around the evening rush hour on Friday, when Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights-Williamsburg) noticed the animal walking along the dangerously-busy BQE. After exiting the expressway, Levin reentered it in the opposite direction.

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After spotting the cat, Levin rescued her – getting scratched and bitten while putting her in his car. He drove the terrified creature to the no-kill BARC Shelter, where doctors examined her and discovered she was pregnant. But that’s not all.

“During X-rays, we saw a bullet in her leg,” Spinola told the Brooklyn Eagle. ‘The entry point was on the left side and the bullet lodged in her right hip.”

Doctors treated the cat – which the shelter named Loretta – for shock, and then took blood samples.

“When they started to shave her they noticed other contusions and abrasions showing the cat was abused over a period of time,” Spinola said. These were not the normal knocks a New York City street cat might suffer, he said. Besides what looked like years of injuries, its paw pads were ripped off and toes were badly bruised.

“In 40 years of doing this, I’ve seen lots of cats that live outside, and it was not that.

“There were burn marks,” he added.

Spinola had high praise for Councilman Levin, who had to rush to Methodist Medical Center in Park Slope for shots and antibiotics.

“The Councilman is a very brave man,” he said. “He put himself into danger with the traffic on the BQE and the injured animal.”

Spinola said that the city needs new laws to help rescue abused animals. “The police wouldn’t know what to do – they’re not trained in this field.”

Public commentary on blogs and social media (the rescue was first reported on Gothamist) has been full of praise for Levin, with some people even urging him to run for mayor (and at least two marriage proposals). But it was business as usual this week for the councilmember with a heart of gold.

“The abuse Loretta has suffered is absolutely horrific and I can’t imagine how a person could be so cruel,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

“I’m thankful that Loretta is now getting lots of medical attention and is being taken care of by the great people at BARC,” he added.

Loretta in the back of Levin’s car after her rescue.The unborn kittens appear to be OK and will be put up for adoption later, Spinola said. But Loretta, who is currently sedated, will need numerous surgeries to recover from her physical wounds.

BARC is accepting donations to Loretta’s surgery fund. (Visit or call 718-486-7489.)

“I have hope that Loretta’s physical wounds will heal,” Spinola said. “But I don’t think the emotional torment will go away quickly, if at all. She’s not happy.”

Spinola pledged that BARC will do whatever it takes to give Loretta some kind of future.

“We feel we owe it to her, to give her a life. Whatever the outcome, she will be safe; she will always have a home,” he said.

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