Cat man Kostich! Greene kitties get new home

When news got out that Greene County builder Ted Kostich would be donating nearly $40,000 of his own money to build a shelter for the cats of Greene County, he got some good natured ribbing.

"I got a new nickname for you," one friend teased: "The cat man."

But to Kostich, the stray animal situation in Greene County is no laughing matter– especially when it comes to cats.

"There is nowhere for stray cats to go," says Kostich, citing Albemarle-Charlottesville SPCA's recent decision to stop taking stray cats from Greene. Last year alone, he says, 500 felines were taken from Greene County to the Albemarle-Charlottesville SPCA.

Caroline Foreman, director of the Albemarle- Charlottesville SPCA, says making that decision was "incredibly difficult," but it had to be done. "We were putting a bandaid on a hemorrhage," she explains. "We couldn't financially afford to take their cats."

Of Kostich's donation for the cats, Foreman says, "It's an amazing thing, and it's so necessary. The breeding and the illness– they're dying a terrible death."

Since the numbers of stray cats is growing ever larger, Kostich says more and more are suffering. And, he points out, it's a serious public health hazard.

"There have been several cats up here with rabies," he says, citing one incident just down the road from the Greene County home he shares with his wife, Sandy, and their three cats and five dogs.

For both Kostiches, adding a cat shelter to the volunteer-run Greene County Animal Shelter has been a longtime dream; he and Sandy decided five years ago to start putting money in the kitty.

"We were getting close to doing it," Kostich says, "and then Albemarle-Charlottesville's decision forced our hand."

Though the couple hadn't saved up quite as much as they had hoped, donations from private citizens and from subcontractors who offered to do work for free or at cost allowed the Kostiches to move the project forward, with a planned groundbreaking in the next two weeks.

"It would have cost about $80,000 without that assistance," says Kostich, who estimates his final cost for the shelter will come in at $37,000.

While Kostich says cats are benefiting most from his and Sandy's beneficence right now, they have high hopes for Greene County's dogs as well.

"Our goal," he says, "is to try to have no dog or cat go out the door without being spayed or neutered or without the coupon to take it to a local vet."

Anyone interested in making a donation of time, money, or services to the soon-to-expand Greene County Animal Shelter should contact Ted or Sandy Kostich at 985-7556 or write to P.O. Box 358 Quinque, VA 22965

Ted and Sandy Kostich with a few feline friends.