By Michele Antonia
Founder and President
Animal Compassion Project’s roots date back 20 years to April 1998 when I accepted an invitation to help a friend and fellow animal rescuer trap a colony of cats who were going to lose their habitat and be displaced because of extensive land development. This trapping project lasted two years with 160 felines safely being removed from the construction site. Kittens and friendly cats were adopted. Some cats were relocated to farms and estate properties. I kept the very feral and fractious cats at my home in Golden Gate City. Eventually we built a house for the cats in my back yard. My home was on an oversized tree filled lot so the cats stayed well hidden.
In February of 2000, I moved to the agricultural property where we are now. The Golden Gate cat house was dismantled and relocated to this property. Shortly thereafter, a dear friend and animal lover, commissioned a larger cat house to be built to better accommodate the cats. A larger building enabled me to take in more cats displaced from other areas. In 2002, we became a 501C3 organization and began expanding.
ACP has evolved from one small hidden cat house to an eleven cat house sanctuary for 200+ feral, FIV/FeLV positive, and physically and behaviorally challenged cats on 2.5 acres. We are inspected and permitted annually by Collier County Domestic Animal Services. Even with our growth, we remain an all-volunteer powered organization.
Although maintaining the sanctuary and care for our resident cats is a large part of what we do, ACP advocates for TNR; sponsors an avid spay/neuter program; provides pet food assistance for cats and dogs in Naples and Immokalee; and educates the public on the importance of spaying/neutering and proper animal care.