The deeply troubled animal shelter for the Town of Hempstead, NY continues its downward spiral, unabated. First they banned the rescuers who spoke out about alleged abuse at the shelter. It was then revealed that the shelter had a $7.1 million annual budget but took in less than 3500 pets last year – many of which were allegedly allowed to suffer without vet care or needlessly killed.
Now in an astonishing move, the shelter has announced it will no longer provide information by phone about pets in their care. Inquiries from the public, including rescuers, must be in written form and submitted via e-mail or snail mail. Mind you, there are 29 full time employees at this animal shelter. Nine of them made over $100,000 last year. And they now refuse to answer the phone?
The Shelter will no longer accept requests for “Do Not Destroy” (DND) tags on animals. With DNDs, animal rescuers were able to “buy” an animal time at the Shelter while searching for placement at a foster/permanent home or an alternative no-kill shelter, at no cost to the Shelter.
Perhaps most disturbing of all is an undated video clip that has surfaced on YouTube, allegedly showing staff members, including the acting director (then kennel supervisor), preparing to kill a kitten. The kitten is lifted out of a box via a choke pole around his neck while someone chants “Kill the kitty!”.
There is a group working on shelter reform and their website contains action alerts and a call to protest:
CALLING ALL RESCUERS, ADVOCATES & ANIMAL LOVERS TO ATTEND HOPE FOR HEMPSTEAD SHELTERS PROTEST ON MARCH 19 AT 12:00
3320 BELTAGH AVE WANTAGH , NY
I have reached out to Town Supervisor Kate Murray for comment. If I receive a response, I will update this post.
Thanks to Karen and mtnhiker for sending me links on this story.
Update: In response to my e-mail inquiry, I received the following (which is apparently what everyone who inquired received):
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray has reacted with shock and dismay over the actions contained in a 17-year-old video filmed at the township’s animal shelter. The Supervisor has responded swiftly, reassigning the shelter’s acting director Pat Horan to a position outside of the shelter pending the outcome of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the video.
Supervisor Murray stated that she has taken immediate action on this matter to ensure that animals at the town’s shelter receive the highest quality of care.
The video shows a former private (non-town) animal hospital employee handling a cat and a town kennel worker who has not worked for the town in over 16 years. An off-camera voice is heard uttering an ugly and unacceptable phrase. An interview with Pat Horan, titled as the source of the off-camera phrase, has been met with an emphatic denial that her voice was on the video. Clearly, Ms. Horan can be seen walking out of the room, while the voice on camera seems to be in very close proximity to the camera’s microphone.
Additionally, the town will be conducting a search for an animal shelter director immediately.