In February, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos announced his department would conduct an audit of the long troubled Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in NY. The audit was prompted by a number of complaints from local residents and animal advocates:
Among the complaints to be investigated are animal neglect and abuse, unnecessary deaths, unsanitary conditions and unqualified staff.
Diane Madden, president of Hope for Hempstead Animal Shelter, spoke at Maragos’s presser:
“Shame on Supervisor Santino, that we are here again, just a few short years later after the first audit,” Madden charged. “There was an audit done by New York State [Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office in 2012] and the [Nassau County] district attorney at the time [Kathleen Rice] called it a case study in mismanagement. …we’ll have to retrace those steps, because that audit has basically been shredded.
“Since Supervisor Santino took over, the animal shelter has worsened,” she added. “He’s brought in more patronage, he’s bullied out more experts and he’s provided no-show jobs for his [Republican] party. And the people that complained about their experiences—rescuers, current staff, past staff and volunteers—all of their pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” she added. “It’s critical that this audit be done, not just financially but operationally…Taxpayers are being cheated, and it’s long overdue that [this] is stopped.”
Maragos was asked why he chose to pursue this audit when OTHER THINGS BE HAPPENING. (I’m sorry but this excuse for neglecting shelters always gets me. As if there is a rule that we can only care about and/or do one thing at a time and shelter pets should automatically go to the bottom of any list.)
“Usually we don’t jump on the first complaint,” Maragos responded. “[In this case} we have people coming to us where life or death is involved. I think we have a responsibility to move very expeditiously and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We could not have ignored his audit. It’s within our power to care, and to represent the residents of Sullivan County.”
It’s within our power to care. That is a very good answer.
The town’s attorneys are arguing that the comptroller has no authority to examine animal treatment or anything else outside the purview of financial matters. The comptroller is willing to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to get the information the town is apparently desperate to keep hidden.
Earlier this month, a 13 year old dog named Oso who had suffered a back injury last year but was still getting around, got out of his yard and was taken to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. Veterinary tests were requested by town officials because “Oso was not eating and walking oddly.” A bladder tumor was discovered by a vet. Oso was reportedly monitored overnight but had not improved by morning so they killed him.
In the meantime, owner Jessica De La Rosa had seen a posting on social media Friday night about Oso being taken to the Hempstead shelter. She called when the place opened the next morning to claim her dog:
[S]helter employees told her that her dog was put down and she needed to come to the shelter to identify him.
So basically, “Fuck you, fuck your whole family and fuck you.”
Ms. De La Rosa is calling for shelter reform:
“I didn’t know he was sick. Everyone loved him and he was able to walk on his own,” De La Rosa said tearfully during a news conference Thursday. “There’s no need to put down a dog without their owner’s consent.”
The Town of Hempstead, which has a history of killing owned pets, whipped out the Blame the Owner manual in response to this poor woman’s heartbreak:
Town officials at the animal shelter said they found no reports of a missing dog before he was euthanized the next morning. The dog had no collar or microchip.
They seem nice.
You know, having a 13 year old dog generally means you are not too terrible of a dog owner. An odd walk, an undiscovered bladder tumor, a refusal to eat in a strange place when lost and confused and in the care of strangers – these are all very normal things for a 13 year old dog. One who was loved, by the way. In case that matters to anyone at the Hempstead shelter.