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Town Discusses Advancements at Animal Shelter

Boasting new enhancement projects at the facility, officials also address abuse allegations.

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.

Rescue

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.

Adoption

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.

TNR Program

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."

Facility Improvements

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.

The town has also been on top of responding to charges made by the Hope for Hempstead Shelter group, who have staged two protests and a candlelight vigil demanding changes at the shelter.

Me April 10, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Kate Murray is definitely trying to hide something. I wrote to the DA's office and I received and still have an email from Kathleen Rice's office that says her office DID NOT BAN the rescue volunteeers. Now they don't accept phone calls. Should we begin using carrier pigeons??? My heart goes out to all the poor animals who don't have a chance.
Clem April 10, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Wow, they are making improvements and you even have bad things to say about that? I guess nothing short of a committee made up entirely by volunteers with no qualifications to run the place and dictate the hiring and firing of staff would make you people happy.
LV April 14, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Township of Hempstead Animal Shelter Abuse of Animals! Where is the ASPCA during all of this? Please ASPCA save these animals from further abuse. You should have the authority to go in and inspect the premises! Concerned in NJ!
Joann May 03, 2011 at 10:28 PM
@ Clem....hmmm what "improvements" have actually been made? Just because Kate and the town say they have made improvements doesn't mean that they have ACTUALLY made improvements.Do the dogs have toys,bedding,bones?No ! On a recent visist a bunch of kennels had empty water bowls..this while the majority of staff was behind the desk chatting..(But seems like you work there and ALREADY know that,the way you are so defensive of the shelter!) Are the animals still spinning in their cages due to boredom and lack of socialization? YES! So this so called behaviorist ,who works 4 hours per week for $2500 per month is not doing much except filling her wallet with our tax dollars.And what about the bleach that they claim they don't clean the kennels with that you choke on when you enter..what about the piles of feces that the animals are laying in when the shelter thinks the spotlight is off of them? And btw any volunteer has MORE qualifications to work there and be on that board than the acting shelter director ,Sue jacobs-AKA -the town attorney who according to her directly ,her qualifications are that she has a business degree and has been involved in running many businesses-or something to that affect when she was asked recently.Businesses and living animals are 2 separate issues!
Laurie Lat May 04, 2011 at 01:27 PM
@Clem, please watch the video on facebook, hope for hempstead shelter. The kill the kitty video. We can see the Debbie in the video very clearly. They are doing nothing. Things are so bad now, worse than before. The volunteers were finding homes for animals and now they are just being killed at random. Please get involved. Its not fair, our tax dollars being wasted and the animals are killed, murdered. Its beyond disgusting. I am so sad about this.

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