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."

Bonnie Wheat March 28, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Check the facts on theses people who call themselves rescue . If everyone was to adopt 1 animal the shelter would be empty . There would be no reason for any of this. Adopt dont protest . All the years they were there and the shelter as I see still have dogs from 09,10, . They interfer in adoptions blocking on Saturdays . I tried to come with my children and my kids were afraid .YOU PEOPLE ARE NOT NICE. Case closed
Thomas Cole March 28, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Want a solution? I sent this to Kate Murray twice but got no reply. Below is the answer to the problems at ToH Animal Shelter. Seven MILLION dollars? I can cut that drastically AND improve service AND still have money left over to fund a massive county-wide neuter program (for the animals, not the people). Read it and weep caring people - this is what Kate Murray is passing up to continue the old failed way = http://tinyurl.com/6yxl4ny
Clem March 28, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Bonnie, you're right. Sour grapes -- people who want jobs but can't get them and feel they should be telling the Town what to do. I've adopted animals there, and the staff was courteous and professional, the animals well kept and nourished.
Nadine Cohen March 28, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Clem & Bonnie - you are both extremely off base here. Just to give the rest of the folks some facts, there was no anger directed toward anyone who may have wanted to go into the shelter to adopt - that's exactly what we want to happen. The police & security for the town blocked access (with cones & cars) to anyone wanting to park in the lot. The group of people voicing their opinions (& last time I checked the Constitution, as Americans we have a right to freedom of assembly to do so) were in no way violent. You may simply just not like the message, which is of course your right. I have a demanding full time job (thank you very much) & am taking time out of a very busy life to volunteer to help animals in our community. None of the ladies banned from the shelter were interested in taking a DIME (instead spent THOUSANDS from their own pockets!), nor is anyone looking to get a paid position out of this. Moreover, many of us outside the shelter have adopted/rescued animals from shelters several times over! I myself have personally adopted 4 cats. Perhaps you should follow coverage re: 3/22/11 TOH Board meeting to hear our concerns & thoughts on how to improve things. No one ever said ALL TOH staff members are "bad", but there does need to be oversight & there is room for improvement. Don't you want better for these animals and/or to know exactly where your hard-earned tax dollars are going - to animals vs. 6-figure salary earning staffers?
Laura Chase March 29, 2011 at 12:12 AM
I am not from your area, but, I have been following this, so what I know is what I have read. My opinion and thoughts are this...something is just NOT right at this shelter and needs to be looked into by an impartial person/persons to determine what is really going on. A 7 million dollar budget?? In my opinion, with that kind of money, there is no reason for this mess, unless, the money is not being spent properly.....In all honesty, I think something stinks big time with this shelter and the people running it.....
Vincent March 29, 2011 at 12:31 AM
God bless all those who turned out for this rally. If I knew about it I would have been there.
JOET*GUITAR March 29, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Arthur said this ans i agree-- These people like Kate Murray, in my estimation are very incompetent to hold such a title as Town Supervisor. She is not a fighter by any means and always seemed to back down when their Union the CSEA gets on board defending their members like Pat Horan.-----also--get that looser Kate Murray out of office---shes enjoying the high salary-benefits-power-perks-and does NOTHING AS FAR AS I CAN SEE AND HAVE READ---VOTE HER OUR--FOR THE ANAMILS SAKE--
Tom Baxter March 29, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Diane Madden for Town Supervisor!
Tom Baxter March 29, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Pets NOT Patronage! Taxpayers NOT Hacks! Efficiency NOT Waste! Don't you feel better already!
Tom Baxter March 29, 2011 at 02:18 AM
You ask why Kate Murray is continuing the old failed way. Beccause that's the way the Republican Party under Joe Mondello does things. The same old way. And until someone comes out and makes this lethargic machine explain why it's taxes are so high, why its services stink, why the employees don't work, why so many relatives of theirs are on the public payroll....Until someone comes forth and holds their corruption up to the light of day, they will keep doing things the same old failed way! What people do not realize is that the Emporor has no Clothes. It's the same old GOP machine that Gulotta had behind him...the same one! The only thing standing between them and new leadership is a pit bull who won't bow to the corrupt party bosses of the GOP or the Democrats!
Barbara Lowe March 29, 2011 at 02:11 PM
That is unfortunate your children felt afraid--perhaps you should have given them an opportunity to talk to the many children who were there ALSO protesting for the rights of these animals to receive fair treatment --those children worked up their own signs to bring to this event. And the only people blocking adoptions and access to animal control were the police ----it was not the protestors. There are not enough adopters for every animal at that pound--that is why rescue volunteers have been helping this animal control for years --trying to find the overlooked animals a safe harbor until forever homes can be found. Were your children or anyone's children ever afraid when those volunteers were INSIDE the pound helping the animals? What "facts" are you referring to regarding these rescuers? And where did you receive your information? Was it from the very same overpaid workers who protested to get these volunteers banned when those volunteers protested against inhumane practices at this animal control? How ironic the same animal control that posts a HUGE sign broadcasting their adoption stats trying to take all the credit for those same stats is now blocking the volunteers who were the main reason those adoption stats are so high. Are you perusing the "facts" now to find out the new adoption stats since the volunteers have been closed out of animal control?
Peggy April 02, 2011 at 05:33 PM
well charlie...I guess you are calling me a sheep. I really do not mind. Sheep are beautiful. You on the other hand are quite full of yourself. I was at the vigil, and I spoke after Diane did. I am not spewing what I heard from someone else; I have seen the mistreatment of animals at this shelter FIRST HAND for 30 years. I have personally removed dogs, paid for them, exercised them, medically treated them, and groomed them, (all things that the shelter did NOT do for these animals)and gave them away to proper homes. Most times it was a colleague from work or a member of my family who adopted from me. Don't call me an "idiot." And furthermore, don't call people who are doing what they think if right idiots as well, just because you disagree. I don't what woman and son you spoke to, but trust me, these rescuers know what they are doing. I have adopted many dogs from that shelter, and I speak from my personal experience. Mezmerized by Diane Madden?? I don't think so. Impressed with her? Absolutely. I know a humane human being when I see one. I have worked tirelessly as a volunteer for many organizations, to do my part, no matter how small, to make the world a better place. One thing I do NOT do is stand in a crowd like a coward and criticize what I do not understand from a bully pulpit. I have no agenda other than to help the animals. I wonder how many animals YOU have saved? Grow up. Diane Madden Rocks!
Peggy April 02, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Bonnie...about your statement saying the protesters block Saturday adoptions.We have only been there twice. The second time we were across the street! Come on, you got to be kidding. On a positive note,I know three rescues that have taken place due to the attention of the protesters. Captain,Cruiser, and Shadow. Also if you still think that a one hr. protest impeded adoptions, why not ask the shelter to open on Sundays? Or maybe you think it is not in the 7.3 million dollar budget? Or what about staying open late on Fridays?
Peggy April 02, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Hey Clem...FYI I have a great job....no need to be saying that the protest people need work .We just want the crew that works for the town to treat the animals in a humane way.And we want the animals to be given a chance to be adopted. The task becomes very difficult when they lie in their own wastes,never get bathed,walked,or receive the human interaction they so desperately require. BTW some of the workers in there are good and have their heart in the right place.Do you not find it amusing that the big wigs are showing up at the shelter more often? Election Day ,to the victor goes the spoils! lol
Marla April 02, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Bonnie, you say as rescuers we are "not nice." How many meetings have you attended at Town Hall? Did you come to the vigil? do you think we are just mouthing off to hear ourselves talk? We are concerned for the treatment of the animals at the shelter. What about that don't you understand??? We adopt ANd protest. We have been inside the shelter and can't stand the smell and the dogs who are spinning in their cages for lack of exercise. Where are your statements coming from? Our kids were proud to be part of the protest, and we feel they learned a lesson in civic responsibility. They have been visiting the shelter every week, and are less depressed with its conditions because they feel they are proactive. But of course, you have the right to disagree, but don't tell us we're not nice.
charlie April 20, 2011 at 05:56 AM
PEGGY, i think you are full of yourself!! for your information i have at the present time 1 dog and 2 cats left out of three (adopted) i also take care of 3 strays outside that adopted myself and my wife, we provide food and houseing for them, heated houseing in winter, they get fed twice a day and snacks in between, i take them to the vet if they get injured or sick and the ones that come around and don''t get along with the others i take to the shelter for adoption. Don't tell me about animals lady, i'm 68 and i've been around the block more than a few time and i know Bull*(&#%@^ artist when i see and hear one. Diane Madden does'nt seem to care about human life though, she does'nt care about the problems she's created for some innocent people, death threats, running off the road etc, animal love is only a smoke screen for her, the only love she has is for $$$$$ and it's going to be proven. A family member of mine worked at the shelter for some time and resigned and not for any alleged abuse but because of the political bull, cronyism etc involving Regina, Milone and Madden, who the hell is Madden to go into that shelter and dictate anything like she runs the place on my dime and that of others, she's no one, a fraud yes, nasty yes, liar yes.
charlie April 20, 2011 at 06:17 AM
MARLA, Bonnie is right, i've been at the town meeting and the rescue people are nasty and arrogant as hell, they can dish it out but they can't take it Where was Madden all those years when all the alleged animal abuse was going on ? i guess it did'nt seem to bother her as long as she was getting the cream of the crop and filling her pocketbook all under the guise of animal rescue!! While were on animal abuse, it's been posted that workers poured bleach over a dog and killed it, that bull, there was bleach hurting some of the animals because the shelters custodial person did'nt know how to cut the bleach when washing out the kennel areas and that can cause problems with the animals feet but that is far from premeditated animals abuse, that's just plain stupidity on the custodian and it was later corrected. I'll be clueing in on some other items of interest a bit later.
Thomas Cole May 06, 2011 at 05:47 PM
This is so frustrating to watch all this unfold: People outside protesting and the people inside barricading the doors with guards and checking IDs. Your community is in a siege mentality. It's "us vs them" now. What can unlock this stalemate? The people with power to change it aren't listening (Kate Murray never responded to my FREE offers) and the people who want the change are too busy with this backbiting and name calling. The answer was handed to you on a silver platter. Shelter Revolution's new and exciting ADOPTION CENTER model changes today's ugly prison-like "shelter" into a friendly center where people get to interact HANDS-ON with large groups of dogs and cats. Happy animals and wagging tails is the greatest advertising. But no, this community insists on sticking with this failed prison model with a very active death row. Both sides need to come together and research this "best-practices" approach. Read a couple simple things that could change your lives and save all the animals in your community: 1) A brief article = http://tinyurl.com/37mxasv 2) Adoption Center Model overview = http://tinyurl.com/6yxl4ny Btw, for you cynics I have no corporation and accept no donations. My work is free to all.
Riley May 18, 2011 at 04:17 AM
No Charlie,You are wrong..the town board is "arrogant as hell"(to use your words)..And now it is all caught on tape,the eyerolls,the texting on the phones,the expressions..the bell ringing for only those that speak about the animals.Believe what you want about the bleach..I was in there choking on the smell of bleach..I guess they are still using "that recipe" .And I guess you forgot the fact that recently people witnessed and have pictures of a container of bleach behind a kennel at TOHAS.PLUS I have seen dogs with bleach burns recently!! BUT on another note I think I read on the internet about someone that was fired because they threatened a former director??? Hmmm..sound familiar Charlie,like someone you know and love? Maybe that's what you should start "clueing in on"..
Tara Ferraro May 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM
To Riley, Whoever You are, If you are refering to me as the one being fired for threatening the former director you are sadly mistaking and really need to get your facts straight! I did not get fired you mis-informed moron, I resigned because of all the crap going on with Charlie Milone, Regina Thorne and Diane Madden! I did not like what I was seeing at the shelter and how it was being run. Two woman with no real animal experience decideing who lived and who died and Charlie Milone doing nothing about it. I still have my resignation letter if you would like to read it! So get your facts straight before opening up your mouth next time. As for the board meetings, when I spoke at one I was the ONLY speaker who ended my speech when they rang the bell on me. Everyone else had the bell rung numerous times before they would shut up. Very disrespectful. Sincerely, Charlie's daughter!
Tara Ferraro May 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM
If anyone is really interested in the truth then please check out "Hope for Truth and Justice for Hempstead Shelter" on Facebook. They are posting FOIL requests from the town shelter showing animals that Regina Thorne and Diane Madden authorized to be euthanized for stupid reasons. Neither one of those two woman and the experience or know how to make those decisions yet they did on numerous cases, to my understanding, hundreds of cases. Funny how they are turning out to be all pit bull and pit mixes, all the dogs that truly needed rescueing, yet they were put to death. I guess they would have been harder to adopt out and needed more work than lets say a cute little Yorkie or something!
Arthur Ametrano May 19, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Hi JOET*GUITAR, I agree with you 100% when it comes to Kate Murray, backing down when the Union gets involved. I was a CESA President, for almost four years working for the Hicksville School District. As soon as Kate Murray, like so many other politicians, hear that the Union is getting involved, it would appear that they do the right thing by the Union, because they know that a Union can make or break you in an election. It's unfortunate that we have such politicians, that we entrust them with our votes that they're going do right by the people, which in my opinion Kate Murray, has done nothing.It just happens that Pat Horan, is my neighbor unfortunately since 2000 I had nothing but aggravation, ever since the girlfriend and her moved next door to me which is a long story that I won't get into. But it's my contention that her as well as other employees that were involved in the day to day operation of the shelter, and not doing their job correctly, should've been suspended without pay and or lose their jobs until an investigation can determined the fate of these individuals. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen Horan, come home from work after 3 hours, and to make that kind of money I think it's a slap in the face to the good people and the volunteers who were trying to help these unfortunate animals. She should have been the one that went first. And despite what the opposition may say, that was her voice on the video I would stake my life on it.
Tara Ferraro May 19, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Attn Joann, You really are misinformed! I guess we are ALL in a lot of trouble then including YOU! So Diane and the others saying that "Ashley killed kittens at the shelter" isn't slander? Or all of the ugly, nasty, unfounded comments made about Pat Horan and others at the shelter are not slanderous? Give me a break! I am only commenting on true facts that are being posted through FOIL requests that were legally received from Town Documents. As for the time frame here is some food for thought; when you request a FOIL document the town has 5 days to answer the request, then it can take UP TO 25 days to recieve the information on PAPER! Call the town lawyer and see for yourself. There has been more slander and unfounded comments and acusations towards the shelter workers and no one seems to give a crap about that,well I do! I stand up for what is right and what's happening to the workers is very wrong. Believe you me I could care less about the republican or democratic party because for my money they are all corupt. At this stage of the game I wouldn't vote for Kate again either because I feel she has handled this whole mess with cowardice and a good woman and outstanding worker lost her reputation and 27 year career.Funny how no one has asked who made the video tape. Well many of us know sho made it and yet I have not mentioned any names. When I have founded proof in my hands I will let the public know who made the tape and why they released it.GOD bless the 1st amendment!
Tara Ferraro May 19, 2011 at 04:17 PM
This is information from a lawyer posted publicly,,, enjoy Joann! "Generally truth is an absolute defense to civil defamation claims, and you also have a free speech right to say/write what you want on a public internet site." "Slander is the oral communication of false statements that are harmful to a person's reputation. If the statements are proven to be true, it is a complete defense to a charge of slander. Oral opinions that don't contain statements of fact don't constitute slander. Slander is an act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Slander is a subcategory of defamation." I guess Pat Horan, Ashley Sheridan, Jill Schuster, MYSELF and others have grounds for a major slander lawsuit!! My father always taught me to "never speak out of school" which is an old saying for " if you don't know for fact than keep your mouth shut!!" I do not speak of things that I don't have proof of to back up. Too bad none of you can say the same. All of this crap based on a video that is well over 17 years old,, so sad that is all they have to go on, not to mention it was released by a very sad disgruntled TOH worker!! Who by the way is still a worker!
charlie May 19, 2011 at 08:24 PM
BARBARA LOWE-NADINE COHEN- MARLA- AMATRANO: First off, Amatrano please do bet your life on that kitty video being Pat Horans voice because i would like to see your biggeted ass hit the ground! as for the rest of you. #1. Madden and bunch did'nt have to take a penny because they made it in adoptions. #2 Madden and Thorne turned the place into a kill shelter for the dogs they could'nt adopt out. #3 Yea it's so bad that Madden offered to drop the lawsuit if the shelter let her back in, give us all a break, tell it to the preacher. #4 On ferral cats, they all with the exception of those that could be possibly adopted out be put down. I'm a life long resident on the island, i've fished the area for over 60 years before these cats were around, i used to see and watch Golden Ringed Neck Pheasant, Dove, some Quail and other Ground Birds all over the place but in recent years they have all but dissappreaed, WHY?? because of the ferral cats. They are tipping the scales of mother nature in a very bad way, but i guess you people don't care how unwisely you spend our tax dollars. I used to feed them down at Jones Beach at the piers but stopped a long time ago because the place is overrun with them and a much larger problem now exists, without the birds the TICK population is out of control, those nasty little pests blow in the wind, i came home last week with a few on me and it is'nt even summer yet, can't imagine what it will be like when the weather really warms up.
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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