Animal rescue group dresses up for classic car calendar to raise funds to help care for feral cats

Otto Wittmeier of the Modern Snack Bar outside his restaurant Sunday morning. Courtesy photo

What’s better than classic cars, an iconic North Fork restaurant, a chance to dress up in period costume and at the same time raise money to care for feral cats?

For one group of North Fork women, that’s about as good as it gets.

The Modern Snack Bar on Main Road in Aquebogue provides an ideal backdrop for a photo shoot featuring classic cars and women dressed in 50s-era clothing. The models are members of North Fork Country Kids Rescue, a group that cares for feral cat colonies and aims to educate people about the animals.

The photos, which were shot on Sunday morning at the Snack Bar, will be used in a wall calendar produced by the group and sold to raise money to support their efforts.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds goes to support the animals,” said Virginia Scudder of Aquebogue, a founder of North Fork Country Kids Rescue. The group conducts TNR — trap, neuter and return — efforts throughout the local area to control the feral cat population. They provide medical and other care for the colonies, Scudder said.

americaJust as importantly, they work to educate people about cats and feral colonies.

People often contact the group out of a desire to get rid of the colonies — sometimes threatening harm to the cats.

“We try to get community members and businesses to understand we can’t just come in and remove cats. You can’t just relocate a feral cat colony. We also work to help people who care for cat colonies understand how to better do it,” she said.

Cats came to America with the earliest European explorers, Scudder said. There are many, many colonies of cats, multigenerational communities whose ancestors have lived in the wild on the North Fork for centuries.

Scudder has been “TNR-ing” for 18 years. At any given time, her group has more than a dozen colonies they’re working to neuter and care for.

A high school teacher in the West Islip school district, Scudder’s ties to the North Fork go back to summering with her parents here as a child. She said everyone in the group lives on the North Fork and is passionate about the local area.

“We like to talk about why the North Fork is so important not only to us but to the rest of Long Island,” she said.

“I used to be a dog person,” Scudder said. “When I became part of this community I didn’t even know what TNR was.”

classic car calendar
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She praised Modern Snack Bar co-owner Otto Wittmeier for the support he’s given to the group over the past few years. “He has been such a force.”

Two veterinarians work closely with the rescue group, providing spay and neuter services: Dr. John Berger of Medford and Dr. Dominic Gucciardo in Ridge.

The group is hosting a recognition dinner to show its gratitude for the two veterinarians on Aug. 14 at Villa Lombardi’s restaurant in Holbrook. Tickets are $55 each and can be purchased online here.

2019 calendars will be on sale in October, Scudder said. For more information, visit the organization’s Facebook page or email [email protected]