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."