Feral cats of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, have reason to be proud. The town’s Mayor, William Akers, was recently honored with the Scott McVay Unity Award by the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey (AWFNJ) for his work helping the cats living on the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy. He was nominated for the award by Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy organization for cats.
The award was accompanied with a $1,000 cash prize. The award was given to the mayor during the annual AWFNJ conference that took place March 13-15, 2014, in Long Branch.
Alley Cat Allies had nominated Mayor Akers for the Unity Award in recognition of his major support for a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for feral cats living at the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Mayor Akers announced he will donate the cash prize to the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Group (SSHAWG) which runs the Seaside Heights TNR program.
“Mayor Akers and SSHAWG reached out to us for help after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the city and so many cats were displaced,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “We were thrilled then to provide guidance on setting up a formal program modeled after Atlantic City’s successful Boardwalk Cats Project. We are thrilled now that Mayor Akers’ support for TNR and humane programs for cats is being recognized.”
Mayor Akers is a longtime feral cat caregiver and supporter of TNR, the only effective and humane approach to feral cat populations. Akers and his wife care for a colony of cats living near his local business.
“Speaking on behalf of our volunteers, we are honored and proud that our mayor is receiving this award,” said SSHAWG vice president Lisa Franciosi. “He has been instrumental in helping us build our organization with his support and compassion, and continues to be an integral part of our growth. This award will be used to continue spay and neuter efforts for the feral population in Seaside. We are truly grateful.”
“Superstorm Sandy set up a unique series of challenges far beyond the normal problems that setting up a successful TNR project usually entails,” said Ken Salerno, SSHAWG volunteer. “Mayor Akers met those challenges head on and personally made sure our program moved ahead when others may have broken down and ceased to exist. At a time when the many animals affected by Sandy were the farthest thing on most people’s minds, Mayor Akers showed compassion and resolve not only for the community, but for the welfare of the cats.”
The Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Group (SSHAWG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that improves the lives of outdoor cats with a Trap-Neuter-Release program. SSHAWG works cooperatively with East Coast Spay and Neuter Clinic to vaccinate, neuter, and ear-tip each cat before returning them to their colony. Learn more and view their kittens and cats available for adoption on their website page.
Alley Cat Allies was founded in 1990. Today the organization has nearly half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Learn more about the Alley Cat Allies and the benefits of Trap-Neuter-Return on their website.
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