Cat rescuer works on timeline
By Brian Bridgeford
Big cat rescuer Jeff Kozlowski said Wednesday he is working to move his lions, tigers and leopards from rural Rock Springs where he annoys and frightens some neighbors to a location in the Lake Delton/Wisconsin Dells area.
Members of the Sauk County Public Health Board agreed to delay for a month action on whether he should have a permit for his cat refuge so he and his attorney could provide a timeline for moving them.
Board members were trying to decide how to deal with the Big Dad’s Big Cat Refuge and Educational Center on Highway 136 just east of the village. About 40 citizens speaking for and against the refuge attended the meeting. It was delayed 30 minutes for lack of a quorum because two county supervisors and a citizen member failed to arrive on time.
Kozlowski has acquired big cats he says were abandoned or badly kept by other owners. The improvised refuge has been a concern for neighboring residents who complain about excessive traffic, the noise and smell of the cats and questions about safety.
Local resident Georgiann Bebar warned the cats are potentially dangerous and wanted to know what steps and emergency procedures were in place if somebody were injured by a cat or in one of the cat’s cages. She asked what would happen if the cages were hit by a tornado.
"If emergency responders had to care for an individual, is there a plan in place for them to be able to get the cats removed in order for that responder to enter the cage?" Bebar said.
Kozlowski also had some supporters at the hearing.
Town of Excelsior resident Dorothy Elfers said she has worked as a zookeeper and was impressed with Kozlowski’s dedication to his animals.
"There are a lot of cats out there that need homes," she said. "I think it’s a safe facility."
Rock Springs village Trustee Duane Neises said the refuge could be a tourist attraction that would bring more income to village businesses.
Madison-based attorney Jeff Scott Olson told the audience Kozlowski is working to move his animals and they could have a schedule for the move at the board’s next meeting. He also promised to have their engineer work with the county’s engineering consultant to insure the fenced enclosure and chain-link cages which house the cats protect the public.
After brief discussion, the board voted unanimously to delay action a month so Olson and Kozlowski could provide a timeline for moving the cats and work on temporary safety improvements for their enclosures. The Public Health Board meets next on July 12.
Kozlowski said he is relieved the board was willing to work with him as he tries to arrange a new location for the animals he wants to protect. He said two or three different businesses in the Wisconsin Dell/Lake Delton area could help establish a public center for his cats.
"It would be a large educational center with viewing," he said. "It would be put up really well."
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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