Twice a month, we'll introduce you to one of Maddie's Pet Forum Founding Members. Today's featured member is Bryan Kortis with Neighborhood Cats in New York City.
New York City
Founding Member Spotlight Interview
Tell us about you and your history in animal welfare.
BK: I grew up in the Northeast and moved to New York City soon after graduating law school (I attended the University of California, Berkeley). I worked remotely for a law firm in San Francisco as a criminal appellate attorney and also part-time as a real estate salesperson in Manhattan. In the middle of it all, I spent a year abroad, buying a round-the-world airfare ticket in Amsterdam, spending time in Europe, India, Nepal, Thailand and Australia. When I satisfied the travel bug, I returned to Manhattan and found work as a video director/editor/cameraman for a small production company that specialized in creating Internet content for Japanese audiences. That gig ended with 9/11, after which I spent a year filming the attack's aftermath, culminating in a feature-length documentary (WTC Uncut) that is now in the collections of the Museum of the Moving Image, Harvard Film Archives, NYU University and others.
I got my start in animal welfare when I was walking by an empty lot near where I lived on the Upper West Side and discovered a colony of 30 intact cats and kittens. By then I had become vegan and studied meditation in-depth and I felt compelled to try to address the situation. I teamed up with a couple of neighbors and we decided to try TNR. At the time, 1999, there were no TNR services in NYC and the issue of feral cats was not on anyone's radar despite the presence of at least tens of thousands of them on the City's streets. The project was a success and we soon formed Neighborhood Cats and began practicing and advocating for TNR throughout New York. We worked with government agencies, hospitals, condo complexes and at the same time offered training to local residents. In the ensuing years, this led to a broad grassroots movement that has resulted in the acceptance of TNR, a host of free services and thousands of volunteer caretakers.