Nonprofit collects funds for cat shelter destroyed by fire

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Non-profit raises funds for cat shelter destroyed by fire: John Rawlins reports on Action News at 4:30 p.m., October 31, 2017 (WPVI)

Authorities said someone set three fires at Pier 70 in South Philadelphia, destroying an ad-hoc shelter for abandoned and feral cats, one of several such facilities along the river.

For years, people have placed containers stuffed with straw to help shelter the colonies of feral cats near the Delaware River.

Most days folks like Jim Peak stop by with food.

"They are true to life animals people all the time aren't," said Peak, of South Philadelphia. "So we rather go with the animals."

But last weekend, just down the street from this colony, a fire. The third fire in less than three weeks.

While there is no official declaration of Arson, the compound is now in ruins.

Authorities believe what occurred was deliberate.

Officials said there is currently an investigation into fires being set at the pier. Among the concerns: if someone harms animals, they could someday harm people.

"This is somebody who does not care about the lives of these animals," said Nicole Wilson of the Pennsylvania SPCA, "they could place that lack of empathy onto people as well."

The Stray Cat Relief Fund is a 503c organization that has raised a remarkable $20k in the last few days since the fire.

"Our organization stepped in the last four years to manage [the stray cat population]," said Alexa Ahrem of the Stray Cat Relief Fund. "To get consistent feedings, to trap, neuter, and return cats to the area to make sure we are controlling the population."

Ahrem said the group's mission is to protect the cats that live along the river.

She said they plan to use the funds raised to rebuild the destroyed shelter with increased security.

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