Cat-Loving New Yorker Says Town Has Vendetta

     CENTRAL ISLIP, NY (CN) – A Long Island resident’s “one-woman crusade” to shelter as many stray cats as she can is being threatened by the town of Huntington, the woman says in Federal Court.
     Barbara Rizzi describes herself as a “passionate animal advocate, cat aficionado and kind-hearted woman” who “takes in as many stray cats as she can and stands up for animals that cannot advocate for themselves.”
     And even though all the cats sheltered in her apartment are spayed or neutered and up for adoption, she says Huntington town officials are trying to evict her.
     Rizzi says she has rented a small apartment in Halesite, New York, since 2009 without any problems. That is until 2012, when a town inspector arrived to check her smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
     The woman says the inspector told her that she had too many cats and had to get rid of them.
     She then received a violation for breeding animals in her home, according to the complaint.
     Rizzi called town officials to state her case, and even had her veterinarian on hand to vouch that the animals were there for adoption and rescue, but says her complaints fell on deaf ears.
     She says an inspector told her, “Those cats are not staying in that house and I will find a violation to apply to your home if it takes me all day or all week.” She received a second violation in April 2012, the complaint says.
     Then she and town officials met up, and one of the inspectors falsely testified under oath that Rizzi had more than 100 cats living in her apartment
     Rizzi says she got another notice from the town stating that her permit to rent the apartment was being revoked. She believes she’s being targeted for being an outspoken animal-rights activist.
     “Other property owners who are not animal activists were not subject to harassment, repeat inspections and baseless summonses,” she says in her 13-page complaint.
     A town spokesman said Wednesday that it had not received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment. Rizzi’s attorney, Steven Morelli, did not return a phone call seeking comment or clarification as to how many cats Rizzi harbored.
     The woman seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations, and wants the town to leave her and her cats alone.

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