Cat lovers in Pompano Beach face fight with city over 60 pets

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – Julie Fontana and her husband, Tony Fontana, love cats. They often rescue them, and when they find them injured or sick and alone in the streets they get them what they need. They have been investing time, love and money in their cats for about two decades.

This week they had more than 60 cats living in their Pompano Beach home, but they have helped about 300 cats over the years. A visually impaired cat is named Sassafras. The paraplegic cat is named Athena. The cat who had a stroke and is under treatment is Dodger.

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of money out of pocket. We work hard, but we love them and we take care of them and why would you want to take cats that are so well taken care of and loved,” Julie Fontana said, adding that they feel it’s their “mission in life.”

Although Fontana has a license to run the Cats and Brats, as a non-profit animal shelter, city officials filed a lawsuit against them to get them to stop. The case landed in Broward Judge John Hurley’s courtroom.

“The area where Mrs. Fontana lives does not allow for a commercial business to be run,” Attorney Tracy Lyons, who represents the city, said.

The Fontana purchased their home in 1996 when it was under the jurisdiction of unincorporated Broward County and not the city, where officials say only four animals can live in a residential property.

“We could do this and there were no issues and all of a sudden now, there are issues and they do not want these cats here so we are fighting to keep them,” Fontana said, adding that she has to appear in court again in April.

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.