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Oct 8, 2009 1:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Dune Road neighbor arrested for trespassing; claims he was protecting feral cats

Oct 8, 2009 1:18 PM

Thomas Young loves cats.

Besides taking care of his three indoor cats, the part-time Westhampton resident leaves out food for a feral cat colony that roams the area near his Dune Road home. Mr. Young, 71, also has trapped stray cats in order to get them spayed and neutered at a local animal hospital.

When he’s back living in Manhattan for the winter months, his daughter, Karin, who lives in Manorville, stops by every day to put out dry food.

But Mr. Young’s compassion for feral cats got him arrested this past summer.

Mr. Young was charged by Southampton Town Police in July with two counts of criminal trespassing and two counts of criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, for springing raccoon traps left under the home of his Dune Road neighbor, 70-year-old Herbert Jacobi. Mr. Young was arrested after two motion-sensitive cameras set up by a professional trapper caught him setting off the traps.

Mr. Jacobi and his wife, Deanne, who are also part-time Westhampton residents, said they had a professional set up traps under their home in July to get rid of raccoons that had nested there and eaten through wires and insulation. They hired Steve, a local licensed trapper who asked that his last name and business name not be published, and he set up three body-grab traps and two additional kill traps under their home.

“The raccoons caused a lot of damage,” said Ms. Jacobi who, like her husband, is a retired attorney. “We wouldn’t hurt any animal—ever.”

But Mr. Young said he doesn’t believe their story, noting that he has not seen a raccoon near his Westhampton home all summer.

“I think they are trying to catch the cats,” said Mr. Young, a retired chief financial officer with Nielsen Media who, along with his wife, Virginia, have owned their Dune Road home for 16 years. “They made it known from the beginning that they dislike cats, and dislike us because we feed the cats.”

When the Jacobis bought their house eight years ago, they said there were tons of feral cats in the area that were being fed by homeowners. Mr. Jacobi said the cats were a nuisance because hair would work its way into the air conditioning unit located under his house.

Even though her adult children are allergic to cat hair, Ms. Jacobi said that both she and her husband are animal lovers and their traps never killed or trapped any feral cats.

On Monday, July 13, Mr. Young said he heard a cat in distress under his neighbor’s house. The cat’s meowing persisted through Tuesday, July 14, and, that evening, Mr. Young said he decided to go under his neighbor’s house to investigate the source of the sound. No one was home at his neighbor’s house, he said.

“When I went there to investigate, I saw two kill traps and three humane traps,” Mr. Young said. “That’s when I put two and two together.”

A week earlier, he said he found a kitten dragging itself by its front legs across his sandy property. Its hind quarters had been crushed. Mr. Young said he took the cat to Westhampton Beach Animal Hospital on Montauk Highway, and veterinarians there told him the kitten had to be put down.

Mr. Young, who originally thought the kitten had been hit by a car, now believes that the raccoon traps under his neighbor’s house are to blame. That’s the main reason why on July 15—a day after he found the trapped cat—he went back under his neighbor’s home and sprayed all the traps with cat repellent.

“I was afraid another kitten would get hurt,” Mr. Young said. “I wouldn’t have gone next door if I didn’t hear that cat.”

Steve, the man hired by the Jacobis to trap the raccoons, said he checked the traps every day for the two weeks he was hired to do so. He said he caught several raccoons over that time and that some stray cats were also caught in the humane traps.

However, he said that no cats were killed in the traps and that none of the cats were left in the devices for more than a day. State law dictates that trappers check their traps at least once a day.

Steve said he installed the motion-sensitive cameras after he realized that someone or something was prematurely springing the raccoon traps. Mr. Young said he trespassed on his neighbor’s property two times, and only after hearing the cat in distress.

Mr. Jacobi said he called Town Police after footage taken on Wednesday, July 15, showed Mr. Young spraying the raccoon traps with cat repellent.

“I just wanted him off my property,” Mr. Jacobi said.

Mr. Young was arrested, arraigned and released on his own recognizance on July 28. Scheduling conflicts with the police delayed Mr. Young’s interview and arrest. His bench trial in Southampton Town Justice Court is scheduled to begin on Thursday, October 15.

Dune Road has always been a haven for feral cats, according to Sara Davison, executive director of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.

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A few things - a cat that is in a trap doesn't meow unless it's a tame cat. Ferals just thrash around but generally don't make a lot of noise b/c that would bring predators. So that was someone's cat. It is against the law for someone to trap and release a racoon. Most trappers take the whole trap, racoon and all, and immerse it in water. This kills the racoon in a very cruel manner. A real animal lover would never allow that. Feral cats should not be fed unless a trap, neuter and release ...more
By darwin (47), southampton on Oct 8, 09 2:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Let's get this trappers name published. Kill traps are an abomination and so are the people who use them. There are frequently stories of people losing their pets to these things. Remember the lady who watched here poodle being crushed by one last year in Bridgehampton because she wasn’t strong enough to release it? The homeowners who hired” Steve" should be ashamed of themselves.
By bird (829), Southampton on Oct 8, 09 2:16 PM
All tame cats should be kept inside and feral cats should be terminated . Both types of cats decimate wild bird populations .
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Oct 8, 09 2:44 PM
Cats often prey on birds, they do not however decimate bird populations. If this were true robins, blue jays, chickadees, catbirds and other plentiful birds would be endangered. And while they fall victim to cat predation their populations are healthy. Humans decimated bird populations. Anyone who doesn't understand this has his/her head stuck in the sand, amongst other somewhat darker places. Habitat destruction, chemical despoilation, climate change, any number of human activities has decimated ...more
By we_are_stewards (3), Brookhaven on Oct 12, 09 6:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
If their intent is not to harm the cats, then why are the homeowners whining about cat hair in their air conditioning unit? They should at least be honest about their intentions . . .
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Oct 8, 09 3:21 PM
I applaud Mr. Young as an animal lover, and dealing with what he had to do to make sure the most humane action was taken when he believed there was a cat suffering. I think I would have done the same. Thank you Mr. Young for being on the side of those that can't speak.
By pch50 (6), Hampton Bays on Oct 8, 09 7:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
I applaud Mr. Young as a real hero for following his conscience. Those terrible Jacobis and their trapper should be the ones arrested...for deliberate cruelty to poor little animals. Maybe one of them should stick an arm in a kill trap so they'll know of the pain and fear a trapped animal feels. Imagine that poor little kitten with its back end crushed. I could cry.
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Oct 8, 09 9:06 PM
The sad truth is that if you are kind to a predatory species it will be attracted to your neighborhood and destroy life. But even ignoring them won't necessarily keep lawyers out.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 8, 09 9:28 PM
2 members liked this comment
Surprised you're not attempting to blame the police
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Oct 9, 09 12:03 PM
I'm sorry but the Jacobi's are really horrible people.

By NYC (7), Amagansett on Oct 8, 09 10:19 PM
Come on highhat,

"But even ignoring them won't necessarily keep lawyers out."

You are smarter than that. People love to bash lawyers, it has become something of a national pastime.

Having seen a variety of your comments, I would think you have a healthy respect for the role lawyers have in our society.

Just as in every trade or profession you will find the unscrupulous, but that should not diminish the important contributions many lawyers make towards helping ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Oct 9, 09 8:10 AM
Some companies that do trapping will get these cats spayed and neutered but the trapper gets charged. It is quite expensive after a while. Yes kill traps are terrible, but the others are a good way to get pests out of your home. This man was trespassing and deserved to be arrested - it costs a lot of money to pay a company to trap animals that tear up the home. We've had damage caused by animals, cats and raccoons.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Oct 9, 09 11:54 AM
I would love to know who the trapper is - dont be such a coward and let us know. To Mr. Young I applaud you - no animal should suffer like that cat or racoons. The Jacobi's are horrible people - They chose kill traps - shame on them and as stated above the other traps are just as bad - the animal sits in the cage and is then killed by the trapper anyway - real nice
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Oct 9, 09 12:34 PM
If there is a no-kill law in Southamton, the Jacobis have clearly violated same. They have confirmed they knew about the cats & they authorized the traps. Oh, and by the way, according to the State DEC web site, trapping raccoons during the summer is ILLEGAL - probably why this trapper refused to give his name. Mr. Young should be highly commended for his effeorts to save God's creatures. Organizations like ARF can only do so much - and they depend on volunteers like Mr. Young. The Jacobis ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Oct 9, 09 1:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Excellent idea, Ms. Public. Maybe if several of us write those same agencies, we'll actually get some attention. If they violated the law, the Jacobis and the trapper should feel the hand of Justice.
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Oct 9, 09 2:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Oct 9, 09 8:22 PM
The Jacobis should leave the area. They are terrible people to have an innocent man arrested who is just trying to take care of homeless cats. I belive this same trapper kills the raccoons and cats. Hello police department you arrested the wrong person.
By nurse (53), sag harbor on Oct 9, 09 11:51 PM
Ms. Jane Q. Public - that trapping law only is if the trapper intends to kill and sell the pelt - that has nothing to do with home pest control. I called the DEC. What I found amusing was that alot of the DEC website's info didn't include information to the public about certain trappings for animals with diseases like rabies and lymes. Maybe homeowners out here should call a local pest control company and find out the exact reasons WHY the DEC wants these animals taken out. It's a sad fact, ...more
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Oct 10, 09 7:45 AM
A bench trial for springing a cat free and "Steve" continues on his merry way. Selective enforcement in Westhampton.
My guess is Mr. Young is found guilty of trespass and let slide on the criminal mischief. Lets go to the video tape.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Oct 10, 09 9:16 AM
From the description in the article, I believe that ALL of the traps were kill traps. The only,"body-grab", traps that I know of strangle the animal and fracture its spine. Had the traps been humane, no-kill models, the Jacobis would have said so. Instead, they are finessing us; pretending that they, "wouldn't hurt any animal - ever.", (except for the two kill traps that they acknowledge).

They were probably surprised when the reporter contacted them. Had they had a few minutes to ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 11, 09 3:58 AM
I had a neighbor that didn't like my neutered cats. He put out anit-freez (per my vet). One was found laying against a tree, gone. Another I took to the vet and hand fed daily on my visits. But it was just days that he passed because the anti-freez had gone through his system and the organs were shutting down. He died a day before his 1st birthday. This neighbor refused to listen to me when I told him my cats (3) were not his problem, but the racoons that slept under his deck. He too was a part-time ...more
By Sky King (4), Hampton Bays on Oct 11, 09 1:19 PM
well everyone is allowed to there opinion.....and mine is that these 'people' and there 'property' is what is wrong with materialistic things and greedy action.

they probably do not believe in karma, but maybe some hurricane will destroy there precious house on stilts.

now if i personally witness the harming of a small fuzzy little creature, i would step in and deliver my own form of justice and take the punishment that came my way...

so watch out animal killers there ...more
By year round (22), southampton on Oct 12, 09 11:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
I like how they say "we would never hurt an animal ever", but they set up 2 kill traps!! I guess this stuff doesnt happen i the city!!??
By jonnyhampton (29), Southampton on Oct 12, 09 10:10 PM
All charges against Tom Young DISMISSED today. YEE HAHHHHH!

For once, The Good Guy wins.
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Oct 15, 09 9:46 PM