By Jeanne Sager
ROSCOE December 17, 2002 There will be a major piece missing in the Roscoe Adult Homes Christmas celebrations this year.
The facilitys cat, appropriately named Roscoe, usually set up shop under the tree in December. The orange tabby took naps under the pine boughs and used the spot for some prime people-watching.
But Nov. 21, Roscoe went missing. The employees at the adult home were distraught the kitty had been living in the building for five years, and never once had he strayed from home for long.
They sent out fliers and set up posters throughout the hamlet. Then they received a call that sent chills up Linda Bucks spine.
A nearby neighbor called the nursing home to tell them his story of the day Roscoe went missing.
He told us he heard a gunshot, and he heard his neighbor say, There, you garbage-pickin cat, I got you, Buck, the facilitys rehab tech, recalled with tears in her eyes.
A call immediately went out to the New York State Police, and Fred Banks, a Roscoe native, was arrested for alleged cruelty to animals.
Banks said he shot the animal under conservation law regulations.
If you have a hunting license and youre over 21, youre allowed to shoot a dog if its running deer, and youre allowed to shoot a cat if its catching songbirds, he said, noting that Roscoe would often sit in his backyard and attack birds.
But the adult home residents and employees showed up in full force for Banks court date in Town of Rockland Court Thursday evening. They wanted to show Banks the impact of what hed done.
He violated 85 residents of the Roscoe Community Center, Buck claimed.
I was not aware that the nursing home even had a cat, Banks responded. I apologized to them that I shot their cat.
If Id have known it was their cat, I would have gone and asked them to keep it inside.
The centers friendly feline was brought to Roscoe five years ago by Alan Kiss, the facilitys social worker. Documented evidence shows the therapeutic value of pets in nursing homes, and Roscoes addition to the place was no different.
The orange tabby used to curl up in bed with resident Lois Margillo and her stuffed animals he made daily life just a little bit easier, she said.
Rather than running around like a rambunctious kitty, Roscoe made his rounds of the facility with a calm demeanor, easily approaching any and all of the residents to give them a kiss on the nose or rub against their legs.
He would walk very slowly up to you and give you a kiss, Margillo recalled.
He was just so loveable, added Virginia Duffy, a six-year resident who recalled Roscoe moving in as a tiny ball of fur five years ago.
He was very much a part of our life, Duffy added. Hed gotten to the point where he was almost human to us.
According to various employees, Roscoe had the run of the place, and he knew the nooks and crannies of the facility.
The cat would walk up to the homes best elevator (he knew which machine was faulty) and meow a request to have the door opened. When a facility employee stepped in and hit a button for another floor, Roscoe would hop in and ride up along.
When he alighted on the proper floor, Roscoe would meow a thanks and trot off to climb in bed with a resident.
Other times, Roscoe would head to the nurses station and push his paw on the handle of the water cooler to take a drink, said LPN Sue Goodrich. And Vicki Schwarz could depend on Roscoe to jump in her laundry cart as she made her rounds throughout the facility.
The cat never scratched, Buck said; he never bit. And when a patient was dying, Roscoe stayed by their side to give them comfort in the last moments of life.
Losing Roscoe was tough, the residents and employees all said.
Especially at this time of year, Schwarz added, its so sad to look under the Christmas tree and not see him there.
The facilitys tabby can never be replaced, though the Office of the Aging has offered assistance in finding the facility a new pet. Margillo is hoping for two cats a boy and a girl, and Buck has assured the residents they will find another cat after Jan. 1.
Banks will return to court Jan. 9 in the Town of Rockland.
Having followed conservation law, Banks claims the act was legal (the cat was also using Banks garage as a toilet, he alleged). But the impact of his actions may be greater than that, Buck countered.
Hell never know what he did to us, she said.