Meow meow, Avio Aero!

Our volunteers for people, communities, environment but also animals, like the case of the cats care in several Italian sites and the special relationship with our employees.

Sep 2022

When we talk about inclusion at Avio Aero, we know we can count on the support of a large group of volunteers who are committed to a single goal. This commitment does not only target people and communities in need. There are volunteers within the company who, with the help of local veterinary associations, are also involved in caring for some stray feline colonies that take refuge at our plants in Rivalta di Torino, Sangone and Pomigliano d'Arco. 

A commitment that began way back in 1988, within the Sangone Test Center (outskirts of Turin), where it is said that - at the time, sponsored by Donna Marella Caracciolo and Allegra Agnelli - the decision was taken to set up a first feline colony, which was then officially registered with the municipality of Turin in 2015. After 34 years, many employees are involved in the care and management of about 120 cats at the three Italian plants, thanks in part - in Rivalta and Sangone - to collaboration with associations active in the area, such as "Le Sfigatte", La Lega Italiana Difesa Animali e Ambiente (Italian League for the Defense of Animals and the Environment, Leidaa) and “Ho a cuore un gatto”.

The cat Volunteering team at Sangone Experimental test center near Turin.

The key to the success of this project, as Elisa Mabrito - Lead Logistics Specialist at Avio Aero - explains, lies "in the involvement and collaboration of employees united by a common passion for felines; but also, in the help that comes from the company, which has created ad-hoc rules and protocols, as well as supporting the costs for the management of the feline colonies. It is an added value highlighting the importance of and interest in the project."

The official recognition of feline colonies by the company, under Law No. 281/1991 ("Framework law on pets and prevention of straying"), has made it possible to simplify processes: it is now easier to establish annual budgets, ensure regular food and veterinary care, as well as provide neutering and spaying according to regulations and promote adoption. Areas equipped with wooden cat houses or small kennels and other facilities necessary for colony management have been set up at all company sites, in "a serene and positive environment where anyone can help solve problems," Mabrito adds.

The Volunteers' team at Rivalta plant amidst wooden cat houses.

In terms of numbers, the Rivalta colony is the largest, housing about 60 cats divided between the wooden cat houses and the "kitty village" tent. Management has been officially entrusted to "Le Sfigatte" since July 2021, mainly for veterinary care and for spaying and neutering of cats. “This clearly shows the importance of spaying and neutering to keep the number of felines in the colony under control while avoiding health risks and overcrowding," explains Maddalena Zeno from the Rivalta plant. Volunteers add love and food collected through charity to what is already being done through funds allocated by Avio Aero.

For some activities in Rivalta and Sangone, the colonies rely on both volunteers and animal welfare associations. In Pomigliano d’Arco, it is a different story. The care and management of the colony are handled exclusively by Avio Aero personnel.

A project that started in 2014 and led, at first, to host about 100 cats at the plant, prompting the company - through Vincenzo Vegnente, Environment Health and Safety leader at the Neapolitan site - to intervene with the establishment of a protected feline colony, so as to limit the births of new kittens. The implementation of the colony "has aroused the responsibility to personally care for some of the cats in many people. So much so that each department has its own mascot," says Giovanni Estinto - Operations Specialist in Pomigliano - pointing out that "many employees have even adopted some of the cats."

Elisa Mabrito while at the cattery built in Rivalta plant feeding the pets.

As explained by Marco Bertinetti, Erik Porru and Paola Audrito, who manage the Sangone colony, the presence of felines at the company allows "on the one hand the number of mice and other small wild animals to be drastically reduced; while on the other hand, it brings a great deal of positive energy with it. What's more, customers and suppliers are charmed by the presence of the cats, perhaps the most beloved being our official mascot, the eldest: Napoleone, a huge, sweet Persian cat with the thickest fur!"

Certainly, Italy ranks among the most advanced countries in terms of legislation for feline colonies with its 1991 law that ensures cats' rights, such as the prohibition of mistreatment (a crime punishable by imprisonment), the right not to be moved to another habitat, the right to care, the obligation for the ASL (local health agency) to provide for the neutering and spaying of colony members, and the guarantee that only under extreme cases (severe illness or incurable) will euthanasia be carried out.

Giovanni Estinto with the cats caring volunteers' team in Pomigliano.

Love and respect for nature are transmitted through these activities that the employees and the company perform to support the feline colonies at the plants, where they can receive the care and love of "our" cat lovers and more. The hope? In other plants, where there is a marked presence of cats, other feline colonies can be set up to safeguard, care for them and make them an active part of the Avio Aero community.