The Town of Hempstead announced Monday that it is formulating a plan aimed at improving pet care at the town's animal shelter in Wantagh. The progressive pet care agenda announced by the Hempstead officials comes in the midst of a probe by the Nassau County District Attorney's office and an interval review of policies and procedures being conducted by the town into how the shelter on 3320 Beltagh Ave. is operated.
The town's "progressive pet care agenda" includes a plan to hire a full-time veterinarian, retain the services of an animal behaviorist and researching pet shelter protocols, policies and procedures at other governmental and private shelters to develop a "best practices" program. The animal shelter is also seeking to hire a liaison to pet rescue organizations.
"We're working hard to provide optimal care for cats and dogs at the town's animal shelter, " Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said in a statement. "Many upgrades and enhancements have been initiated over the past several years, but we are looking ahead, armed with a progressive pet care agenda, to foster the best pet shelter experience possible for animals in the town's care."
The town's announcement comes nearly a week after animal rescuers spoke out at a Hempstead Town Board meeting about concerns over how pets were being treated at the shelter and how the agency was being run administratively. Acting shelter director Charles Milone, and the agency's adoption coordinator have been transferred from their jobs pending the outcome of the probes. Town officials said they could not comment on the specifics of the probes but Murray emphasized that the investigations into the shelter are related to administrative matters and not the result of any reports of animal cruelty or mistreatment.
"The town's animal shelter has many loving cats and dogs in our care," said Murray. "We are going to do everything possible to improve the quality of life for our pets and move swiftly to place them in appropriate permanent homes."
Chris Munzing, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said he could not comment on the specifics of the office's probe into the shelter but said an investigation is ongoing.
The town's plan announced Monday also includes commencing a volunteer program in the next couple months. Under the new program volunteers will be screened and incorporated into a animal care schedule that involves pet interaction, exercise and companionship. Hempstead officials are also looking into the possibility of constructing a canine corral with pet friendly synthetic turf that would augment the 16 pet running exercise areas at the shelter and facilitate group play.
"I know that the town's Progressive Pet Care Agenda will result in enhanced care and more adoptions at the animal shelter in Wantagh," said Murray. "As a person who cares deeply about animals, I am insistent that dogs and cats at our shelter receive the best care possible."