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Former Town Animal Shelter Rescuers Sue Hempstead

Three women banned as rescue workers file lawsuit against town officials in hopes of being allowed back into Wantagh facility.

Three women that were banned as volunteer animal rescue workers at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh nearly two months ago are now fighting back.

A lawsuit filed this month in U.S District Court by Diane Madden of East Meadow, Lucille DeFina of Merrick and Frances Lucivero-Pelletier of Levittown claims they were penalized by the town for speaking out about abuse at the shelter and alleges that lies have been spread about them by Hempstead officials.

The three former rescue workers at the animal shelter are seeking unspecified compensation and permission to be allowed back at the facility on 3320 Beltagh Ave., Wantagh. The three women had worked at the shelter for many years seeking out adoptions for animals that were at risk for euthanasia.

The lawsuit states that the three volunteer animal rescue workers were banned from the Town of Hempstead Animal shelter on Oct. 22, 2010 after "speaking out to shelter employees and town officials about the cruel and inhuman instances of animal abuse and neglect they observed at the shelter." The lawsuit also alleges that the women were also prohibited from being able to enter the Town of Hempstead facility.

"They want to be back at the shelter and helping the animals," said Steve Morelli, a Garden City attorney representing the three plaintiffs. "They are being penalized for expressing their opinions."

Hempstead Town spokeswoman Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky said the town has not reviewed the lawsuit yet and has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

The lawsuit comes three weeks after Hempstead town officials announced that they were formulating a plan aimed at improving pet care at its animal shelter. The Town of Hempstead has been conducting an internal review of policy and procedures at the shelter. The Nassau County District Attorney's office and Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are also doing inquiries into the shelter's practices.

Hempstead officials have not commented on the specifics of the probes into the shelter but Town Supervisor Kate Murray has emphasized that the investigations are related to administrative matters and not the result of any reports of animal cruelty or mistreatment.

Bob Rabey December 17, 2010 at 06:43 PM
This piece is has not gone far enough into what actually has been going on at the shelter. Please do a follow-up and probe a little deeper. I'm sure you'll be surprized at what you find.
Seth Bykofsky December 17, 2010 at 09:44 PM
For years folks have been complaint that the Town of Hempstead is going to the dogs. Now, it would seem, even the dogs can't get a fair shake. Every issue, in Supervisor Murray's mind, is deemed "administrative," "not feasible," or "beyond the control or jurisdiction of the Town." It appears that the only things missing from this sad menagerie are those three monkeys, Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Speak No Evil. Well, at least the first two. The third, we suppose, escaped Kate's clutches, fleeing the Town's Animal Shelter for more hospitable climes, presumably with considerably lower property taxes!
Linda Kreuzburg May 10, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I used to go to school across from the Wantagh Bide A Wee that was next to the Town of Hempstead Animal shelter. I was very schocked to hear about animal abuse at that shelter. I got my cat from bideawee there in Wantagh and my cat is buried in the cemetery there next to where the bideawee shelter used to be. I moved to Albany in 1999 and started working for the state in 2003 and in 2005 started going to college at hudson Valley Community College to get a associates in applied sciences in criminal justice so I can be an animal cruelty investigator here in Albany county. Tell Ms. murray to really investigate the animal abuse allegations at that shelter and to let those volunteers back at the shelter to take care of them. Linda kreuzburg a former nassau county resident residing in Albany,NY . My email address is lkreuzbu@mail.nysed.gov
Linda Kreuzburg May 10, 2012 at 05:15 PM
If the investigation by the district attorneys office and the SPCAdoes find out that there are abusing the animals at that shelter in the town of Hempstead then they or whoever is responsible should be arrested and go to jail. There is the Buster's Law that makes animal cruelty a felony under section 373a of Article 26 of the Agriculture and Markets animal abuse laws for the who New York State and that includes nassa County, Suffolk and all counties in New York. Suffolk just adopted their animal abuse registry and Albany just got one put into law a few months ago so why doesn't Nassau County have a animal abuse registry. They need one whith all the articles of animal abuse in the papers lately.

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