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VIDEO: Candlelight Vigil at Embattled Animal Shelter

Nearly 100 former volunteers, residents and supporters turn out for a candlelight vigil at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter.

The Hope for Hempstead Animal Shelter animal rights advocacy group staged a candlelight vigil Friday night in front of the town's Wantagh-based animal shelter to memorialize animals that have been euthanized.

Public outcry about alleged abuse at the shelter has gained momentum in recent weeks, especially after a 17-year-old video depicting the mistreatment of a kitten by shelter workers, including former Acting Shelter Director Pat Horan, was posted on YouTube. Horan has since been reassigned to the Department of General Services, according to town officials.

After the release of the video, hundreds of concerned residents and rescue workers rallied outside the shelter March 19, demanding several changes from Town Supervisor Kate Murray, including an overhaul of the shelter's leadership, an end to its ban on volunteers and better services to increase adoptions.

Former shelter volunteers Diane Madden of East Meadow and Lucille Defina of Merrick, seen speaking on camera, are currently involved in a lawsuit with the town. The women, along with Frances Lucivero-Pelletier of Levittown, another plaintiff in the case, claim they were penalized by the town for speaking out about alleged abuse at the shelter and stated that lies have been spread about them by Hempstead Town officials.

The women worked at the shelter for many years seeking out adoptions for animals at risk for euthanasia. They, along with several others, protested outside the shelter in January, calling for a lift on the ban of volunteers at the shelter.

Hempstead Town officials issued the following release prior to the vigil:

"The humane care and treatment of animals is a top priority for Hempstead Town’s officials. Respect for euthanized animals is an extension of that commitment. Our township has a thoughtful policy of not euthanizing adoptable animals. Please visit our shelter and consider adopting a lovable cat or dog today."

Nadine Cohen May 19, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Dear Charlie, I'm not exactly certain why you are dragging my name into your comments - I am merely trying to voice my rights as a tax-payer & animal lover. I volunteer at a local shelter & serve on it's board but in no way claim to be an expert in animal care, nor am a person with all the answers. However, after attending TOH board meetings & listening to people recounting stories of neglect/abuse at the shelter, it became clear that something is radically wrong at TOHS & I find it confounding that Ms. Murray will not allow volunteers (apart from those banned) into the shelter to try to help out. I also find it disturbing that our town's budget allocation to the shelter is higher than that of any other shelter on LI, yet we provide less services to the animals surrendered to the shelter and the people of the town. This begs an investigation in the very least & should promote an open-door policy into the goings on. If there is nothing to hide, what is there to fear? Why can't we work together on this vs. all the name-calling that's being conducted?
Nadine Cohen May 19, 2011 at 08:54 PM
As to the issue of feral cats... feral cats on LI have become an issue because of several reasons - starting with Nassau County & the TOH not providing low cost spay/neuter services to the public; owners who allow unaltered cats to roam outside; owners (or relatives of deceased parents, people who lose their homes and must move in with relatives or into a shelter, sadly) who no longer want (or can care for) the cats who then "dump" them at places on the south shore (like Long Beach, Jones Beach, etc.) where again, if they were not spayed/neutered are able to multiply dozens of times over. People that I know through my volunteer efforts are generally responsible people - they feed, but also get the cats fixed so as to avoid all the problems you relate above. Many of these same people are doing it at a cost out of their own pocket.
charlie May 19, 2011 at 11:22 PM
NADINE COHEN: In response to your last comment, you still don't get it, fixing the ferrel cats does not help the problems created by these cats, you fix then put them back, they still keep killing every on the ground!! if their kittens can be saved and found fit for adoption fine but don't turn any of them loose, they have killed off so many birds and help the tick population explode, maybe you don't go out and interact with nature so you don't have to worry about ticks or seeing any of the beautifull birds that used to be home Jones Beach and all the other beaches, your talking a loseing battle, you just don't get it.I take care of strays that people have dumped when they moved, they have made my yard their home, they get fed and kept warm in the cold months and i watch other animals and birds walk in front of them and they could care less, they don't harm the environment, that i am all for.
Nadine Cohen May 20, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Charlie, I do get it, & I'm not ignoring the fact there are large feral colonies on Long Island & their impact on the ecosystem. That wasn't something I was failing to "get" - the point I was in fact making was that the people who are feeding & performing TNR are not the parties who created the problem. They are trying to simply work within the framework of what the situation is & do their best to prevent the problem from getting worse. What will happen over time is that by performing TNR on the feral colonies, eventually the feral cat populations will subside over time (cats no longer being able to procreate will live their life span & pass away of their own accord which, being on the outside without regular access to veterinary care & subject to disease & the elements would be a much shorter life than a housecat kept indoors). I don't suggest I have all the answers, but what is the alternative? To go after these animals who didn't choose to dumped outside & round them up for euthanization? The problem as always starts & ends with people - we made the mess & now we need to clean it up. I applaud your efforts to take care of strays & certainly wish there were more people who felt as you do, & welcomed them into your backyard, but the sad fact of the matter is, most people don't & instead simply feel they are a nuisance, akin to having an infestation of termites, rats, etc. We all need to work together so life can exist for all the animals living in the wild, right?
Joann June 01, 2011 at 05:38 AM
Here is the latest TOHAS victim.Please watch and share: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-WginPR56w&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL There will be a candlelight vigil this Friday June 3rd at 8pm at TOHAS in honor of "Ilsa" and all of the unnecessary senseless deaths.Please come and show your support!

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