Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wisconsin's Big Cat Rescue

Wisconsin's Big Cat Rescue

FKA Big Dads Big Cats

County case over cat refuge settled

By Brian D. Bridgeford Nov. 2007

After more than a year of litigation, big cat advocate Jeff Kozlowski agreed to settle a dispute with Sauk County by paying $7,500 for violating the county ordinance governing exotic animals.

In an agreement filed Tuesday in Sauk County Circuit Court, Kozlowski and his non-profit group, the Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Educational Center, agree to pay $1,250 per month beginning in May and continuing each month until the county is paid off. The refuge was located on Highway 136 east of Rock Springs when the dispute began, but has since moved into the village and out of county jurisdiction.

The settlement agreement avoids a trial scheduled for today in which attorneys for Kozlowski and Sauk County would have argued over how much he owed the county.

The judge ruled in May the refuge violated county ordinances.

Kozlowksi began his cat rescue activities with four lions and tigers at his home on Highway 12 near Prairie du Sac. He was trying to win a permit under Sauk County's large animal ordinance when he moved to the Rock Springs location in late 2005 and eventually ended up with 16 tigers, six lions and two leopards which have been abused or abandoned. The refuge is likely their last chance of survival because of the shortage of space in other refuges, Kozlowski says.

After the rapid expansion in the number of cats and the move to Rock Springs neighbors began complaining about noise, traffic and the possible safety risks.

Sauk County officials determined Kozlowski violated zoning ordinances with the location of his sanctuary and eventually filed a civil forfeiture action against him in Sauk County Court.

Tiger breeding at Wisc. big cat "sanctuary"?

Big Cat Rescue. Jeff Kozlowski has turned over ownership of the big cats to his newly formed board of directors, but he is still in charge of the daily care of the cats. Kozlowski has repeatedly stated that this is a sanctuary and he did not want to breed these cats. Well, it has happened again, a new tiger cub was born recently.

As most people already know, Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue is trying to relocate into the village of Rock Springs. On July 9, there was a public hearing at the village. The majority of the people voicing their opinion on this matter were opposed to them relocating to the village. The main concern of these people was if these big cats could be neutered or altered so that more of these unwanted cats would not be born.

I believe that this new cub being born just goes to show the irresponsibility of Kozlowski and his newly formed board of directors. They say they are a sanctuary. I see these big cats daily and do not like what I see. These beautiful animals pace back and forth all day long in their cages, walking in their own urine and feces. The manure from these cats is never removed. Kozlowski periodically spreads cedar mulch over the feces to cover it up. He has stated in public that he removes the manure from the cages.

These poor animals are bored and are not provided with any outlet for this boredom. In the wild, they would be out hunting for their food, eating and then sleeping.

Right now, Kozlowski is in litigation with Sauk County for the keeping of restricted animals, and he also faces $23,000 and some change in fines imposed by the U.S.D.A. He, of course, is contesting all of this.

He always states that he has good reports from the U.S.D.A., but actually he has been in noncompliance for a number of things, including dirty and algae-filled water bowls, insufficient shade, fence repair, and weed control. Noncompliance seems to be the way that he handles most of his issues.

Again I wonder if the village of Rock Springs board will listen to the public this time, I doubt it, I believe that their minds are made up and they will continue to allow Kozlowski to put the cart before the horse like he has done all along. He has stated that he needs to get these cats out of the jurisdiction of the county and he needs to get the cats into the village now and worry about the details later.

We'll see what happens at the regular monthly village meeting on Monday. With so many people from the village opposing this, I don't see how they could vote to allow him into the village.

Melody Hiller,

Rock Springs