Willie Ortiz, 76-year-old Army veteran and a scrap metal worker in Hartford, Connecticut, has spent the past 22 years feeding 68 feral cats. He has not missed a single day, neither rain nor snow has stopped this from his mission.
Ortiz, who is originally from Puerto Rico, feeds the cats every night at 7 pm. He attends to all their veterinary needs and makes sure they have proper shelter. This includes trapping, spaying and neutering all newcomers to avoid unnecessary expansion of the colonies.
Despite his efforts, the colonies expand, anyway. Many of them are strays abandoned by their former owners and if any of them are adoptable, Ortiz finds them homes. Some of them are too feral and must be released back on the street.
In order to fund his project, Ortiz drives around neighborhoods in the morning, looking for scrap metal to sell. His friend, Kathleen Schlentz, set up a GoFundMe campaign in February 2016, while local rescues and neighbors have also taken notice and helped out
Ortiz said that he originally came up with the idea in 1995 after he saw a stray cat begging at a local auto body shop. When he saw that the cat was shoved aside, again and again, it broke his heart to see the cat ignored. He began to feed the local strays behind Hartford Hospital, where he used to work. That soon turned into trapping and neutering them, and tending to their medical needs, as well.
Though a busy and devoted husband for 53 years, a father of two and a grandfather of four, Ortiz has still manages to find the time to take care of the feral cats in his neighborhood. He says he will continue to do so as long as he can and has set up a savings account from the donation money raised to ensure his charges are cared for after he is gone.
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