Meet Glen Venezio, the Amazing ‘Cat Man of Puerto Rico’

When Glen Venezio moved from New Jersey to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2006, he was shocked by the number of hungry cats and dogs roaming his neighborhood, and how cruelly many people treated them. So he made it his mission to take care of these animals by going out at night to feed them.

Venezio tells Care2 that when he started 10 years ago, “I was only doing one single block basically, and a few more cats right in front of my place.”

Since then, his route has expanded greatly: “That is the difficulty to do this work in a place like this. I can expand my route a few more blocks in each direction, and there are more and more cats and dogs.”

Venezio explains that the situation of feral cats in Puerto Rico is unique. There are no organizations like Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), as there are in the U.S., and no managed colonies. So while Venezio estimates there may be 500,000 feral cats on the streets of Puerto Rico, there are only a few small shelters helping them.

Venezio has also been working to neuter and spay these homeless creatures, and is proud that he has already sterilized about half of the cats on his current route.

Feeding Cats Every Night For 10 Years

For the past ten years, Venezio has been going out every night, from 1:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., and is now feeding over 250 cats, a few dogs, and even some chickens. He has to do this to prevent the wild chickens in the neighborhood from gobbling up the cat food.

“I’m on the street, basically all night long on foot, with food, with water,”¯ he says.

Glen-pouring-out-food

Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube video

He’s not kidding about that food: Every night Venezio uses four to five 16-pound bags of dry food and 30 to 40 cans of wet food. That adds up to about $400 a week. 

“I’m a one-man show, and I’m already stretched beyond capacity,”¯ he told Care2.

More Animal Activism

Venezio has also been active in other ways. He has aided the Puerto Rico State Police with many animal cruelty cases over the years. Some of his other animal activist projects include helping to prevent the creation of a Bioculture monkey breeding farm, whose owners were planning to import and breed macaques for cruel experimentation, and leading a campaign to fight against a proposed dolphinarium in San Juan some years ago.

Yet Venezio’s tireless efforts are not always greeted with applause. Sometimes the animal lover has to call on a police officer to protect him. As he explains in this video, “I scream my lungs off. And the people hate me more. I’ve been hurt. I have to protect myself. I have people threatening me.”

He tells Care2, “I’ve been punched in the face, and I’ve had pepper spray squirted at me.” His sense is that the residents are taking out their frustrations with life in Puerto Rico on him, and also that the people wanting to hurt him hate the cats, and so they hate the fact that he is taking care of them.

For Venezio, it’s clear that “It’s time for people to learn this is a planet and an environment that we share with other species.”

It’s tragic that local residents can’t recognize that whatever they feel about these cats and dogs, their neighborhood would be much worse off if Venezio wasn’t doing this important work. Once again, we see how people need to understand that we humans share this planet with other species, and we must learn to live together.

And it’s also true that animals have many lessons to teach us humans.

To learn more about Venezio’s story and the animals he protects, visit his Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube video

146 comments

Melania P
Melania Padilla2 months ago

A hero, an angel indeed. Thank you Glen! Saring

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FOTEINI c
FOTEINI horbou3 months ago

GOOD WORK GLENN! BRAVO!

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Barbara K
Barbara K4 months ago

Wow, this is such a wonderful story. This man is such a hero to all these beautiful cats. Thank you for all you do.

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Glen Venezio
Glen Venezio4 months ago

Virgene L, thank you for the lovely comment regarding my work. But I must address something you wrote that many people don't understand about here if they hahe never been here especially, you think the people of Puerto Rico are suffering because you read the national news about the govt. bankruptcy situation, loans defaults, etc. No one is starving here, this is a highly consumerist society, people go to exclusive malls, drive fancy cars and "party " all night, in my area where I do the cats, these are middle to upper class people, who live in penthouse condos, drive BMWs and Mercedes and Mini-coopers, have lots of money for trips and luxuries, the only thing they are blind to and ignore are the animals outside their front doors in the street. Many people write to me and say "well the animals suffer there because the people are so poor"---not in my area=that is a misconception. The poor here are not starving either- Puerto Ricans get food stamps, Medicaid, etc., there are lacks of certain things among the poor people, but no one is starving, etc. This is another excuse that people provide why the animals are treated badly and it is a misconception.

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Virgene L
Virgene L4 months ago

Blessings to Glenn. It is unfortunate the people of Puerto Rico are suffering along with the cats. Everyone needs to take this saying to heart: "Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there." Gary Snyder, American author

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Graham P
Graham P4 months ago

I have had Glen as a friend on Care 2 for sometime and he needs all the help he can get so donate every little helps. Apart from his Facebook page, Glen has a Care 2 profile. Please Help.

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Miia Suuronen
Miia Suuronen4 months ago

Wonderful, absolutely wonderful man!

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S4 months ago

God Bless this man

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Elisa F
Elisa F4 months ago

An Angel Among Us :) Thanks Mr. Glen Venezio!!!

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Elisabeth T
Elisabeth T4 months ago

Bless this absolutely wonderful man!

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