In response to recent calls for reform at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, town officials are reaffirming their commitment to the health, safety and welfare of cats and dogs at the Wantagh facility.
"Indeed we have recently undertaken many initiatives to enhance the quality of care and expand services to animals," said Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky, press secretary for the Town of Hempstead.
Changes have included adding full-time veterinary services, hiring a veterinary technician, expanding the Trap-Neuter-Return Program for feral cats, retaining an animal behaviorist and expanding information on pets available for adoption on the Internet.
Completing its third major animal rescue within three months, Hempstead Town Animal Control Officers responded to a call from the Freeport Police Department late Thursday. Hempstead Town shelter employees retrieved 10 dogs - including three Boston Terriers, two young Terrier-mix dogs and five pit bulls - from a Freeport home that are now being cared for at the Beltagh Avenue facility.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said that the town has reached out to renowned animal rescuers at Rescue Ink, who have particular expertise in pit bull rescue.
In January, Animal Control workers were instrumental in the 'house of horrors' case at a Rockville Centre home. In addition to removing nearly 30 deceased animals, officers took 16 malnourished and severely neglected animals to the shelter to be cleaned and cared for.
Just days later, also in Rockville Centre, Animal Control officials removed 17 severely neglected dogs from a home. The animals received medical attention and thorough cleaning and grooming at the shelter.
Town officials recently told Patch that all the rescued animals have been adopted in the two aforementioned Rockville Centre abuse cases.
Overall, in a two-week period, for example, roughly 20 percent of the dogs available for adoption were placed in loving homes with the help of the shelter's new rescue liaison and adoption coordinator.
The shelter is now trapping feral cats from colonies and spaying and neutering them. Males are kept for observation for 24 hours and females for 36 hours after altering.
"In March alone, we altered approximately 90 cats," added Pokalsky. "We also administer the rabies 4-in-1 vaccine to these feral cats and treat them for fleas."
The town is also in the midst of several enhancement projects at the shelter itself, including adding air conditioning.
"Engineers have taken measurements and are consulting with green energy experts and we anticipate the project going out to bid in early May," said Pokalsky of the time-frame.
Another large undertaking is the development of walking trails around the shelter.
While the preliminary plans have been completed by an engineering consultant, the town must submit an application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation because the shelter is surrounded by wetlands.
Addressing Allegations of Abuse
"In response to those who have made allegations of animal abuse at our shelter, we point out the following facts: the county’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recently told Newsday its investigation of the shelter found nothing that could be brought to the attention of the District Attorney," said Pokalsky. "A December report from New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets gave Hempstead’s shelter its top marks and indicated no deficiencies."
Additionally, the town has launched a nationwide search for a new shelter director after the former Acting Director Pat Horan was seen on a YouTube video where shelter workers were depicted mishandling a cat and saying "kill the kitty." Horan has since been reassigned to the town's Department of General Services.