STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — A Beach Haven West hybrid bobcat and its owner are finding financial support from South Jersey residents who want to fund a new enclosure for the feline who likes to run away.
Ginny Fine, owner of Rocky the domesticated hybrid bobcat, is preparing for her court date in Stafford Township Municipal Court on Friday afternoon to face a second summons in six months for the animal running at large.
“At this point there is so much support for Rocky out there, there are so many people worried about him and who are angry about the fact that he is sitting in a zoo in a cage, that I think it would be hard for a judge to rule against (her),” Fine said. Rocky was removed from her home Monday and taken to the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township.
The possible help includes an online fundraising effort and an offer relayed by local animal control officials from an anonymous donor to build the needed pen for Rocky.
After the declawed pet, who sleeps in bed with Fine, was found this past weekend after escaping March 25, authorities removed the 3-year-old, 38-pound cat from her home Monday as part of a court agreement from October, when Rocky previously ran away.
The agreement also required Fine to build within 10 days an enclosure at her home surrounded by a fence “to prevent a potentially dangerous hybrid feline from escaping, by climbing, jumping or digging.”
That part of the agreement was never completed because Fine said she cannot afford to build the kind of enclosure the township is requiring.
“I do take responsibility for the fact he got out. I am his guardian and that is my fault, but I just want him to come home,” Fine said.
On Tuesday Fine said Stafford Township Animal Control called to tell her there was an anonymous woman who wanted to pay to build Rocky’s enclosure.
“Her only concern is that whoever builds the pen makes sure they do a really good job,” Fine said.
Also, an online fundraising initiative for Rocky was started Tuesday morning by Tuckerton resident Anne Marie Galfo and Eagleswood Township resident Janine Schnell.
In eight hours almost $300 had been raised through the campaign. Fine said Monday it would cost about $1,000 to build what the township is requiring for Rocky.
Schnell said after she read Rocky’s story her love of exotic animals was the reason she had to step up and help.
At one time, Schnell was the owner of two hybrid Asian leopards and said she knows what it’s like to own exotic animals and about the laws that are required to be followed.
“To see somebody have, whether it’s bobcat, lion or exotic snake taken away from them as long as it’s caged what’s the problem. It is a bobcat, but it’s a hybrid, so what makes it different from the hybrid wolf dog that is out there walking around?”
On Monday, Fine said she didn’t have much use for many humans, but she was feeling different Tuesday after learning of the online fundraising account for Rocky’s pen and potential legal fees.
“I was not going to pay certain bills this month to make this happen and have his pen built for him to come home. I went from complete despair yesterday to — I don’t even know what to say at this point. Thank you obviously isn’t enough,” Fine said.
Rocky — who survives on a diet of raw chicken and chicken livers and a regular calcium supplement — is very calm and quiet at the Popcorn Park Zoo where he was taken by authorities Monday afternoon.
“I didn’t think he’d be anything other than calm and quiet, because I think he’s scared,” Fine said.
Fine said that individuals from all over South Jersey were trying to get in touch with her to donate money to help bring Rocky home.
Jennifer Sauer, of Barnegat Township, said a group of women she is friends with in the community joined together to all donate what they could to help Fine and Rocky.
“We read that she is a single mom and we are all from this community and all of us have animals, so this is really sad. We just want to help and send her money,” Sauer said.
Elaine Eastlack, of Hamilton Township, said that when she read Rocky’s story Tuesday morning in The Press of Atlantic City, she knew she had to do something to help.
Eastlack said she is willing, like many others, to cover all the costs for Rocky’s pen to be built so he can come home.
“I saw the story in the paper and it made my heart bleed. We just had to have our cat put down because he was sick. You get attached to an animal and something like this is just infuriating,” Eastlack said.
In Toms River, Rocky’s story touched the same nerve for Kath and Drew Steck.
If Fine is able to bring Rocky home, the Stecks said they are also willing to help her with the cost of the pen.
“I do hope that they allow her to bring him home on Friday. This poor thing is used to sleeping in bed with her at night,” Kath Steck said.
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