The following is from Hempstead Town resident Lucille DeFina.
To the Editor,
Recently you published an article about the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter scoring high marks on their inspection from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. I would like to inform you that this is an inspection that is almost impossible to fail. They merely inspect the basics, such as clean food and water.
Publicizing this inspection is an extension of continually misleading and manipulating the public. Due to the pressure that the public has made on the town after the banning of a few rescuers a year-and-a-half ago, the town was forced to implement policies, procedures and programs that have been non-existent at the Hempstead Animal Shelter.
Does anyone recall Kate Murray's "Progressive Pet Care Agenda?" This agenda was announced and published back in November of 2010, yet most of its promises have still not come to fruition.
First on the list, and proving to be most detrimental, is the full-time veterinarian service. Instead of hiring a full time veterinarian at an honest average wage of $68,000-$90,000 a year, TOH chose to give one of their veterinarians an hourly wage of $98 an hour, while continuing to hold two contracts for outside vet care services – this results in not only wasteful spending of taxpayers money by doubling the cost, but offers no additional vet care from what the animals had before.
Full-time vet care is supposed to mean having a vet on staff during the operational hours of the shelter. On any given day you can walk into the Animal Shelter after 1:30 and most likely, there will be no Veterinarian on duty.
We can go through Kate Murray's Pet Care Agenda point by point, but this letter will be far too long, so I will stress only two other points.
The volunteer program that was supposed to be up and running by early 2011 has been delayed for one excuse after another and is presently horribly insufficient. There are very few active volunteers and a wait list of at least 30 applicants waiting to be called.
The few volunteers working with the animal shelter are under strict watch and restrictions, allowing them very little access to the animals out of the public's view that are most in need.
The focus of the TNR program is to train and provide certification for the trapping of feral cats so that the public can remedy the problem on their own. The TNR Program at TOH functions as more of a "how to" program rather than a service, leaving thousands of cats to reproduce at the mercy of the people caring for them – this is not the intent of a true TNR Program.
Most shelters provide a contracted outside not for profit organization to trap feral cats for their community at no additional cost.
So once again, the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter continues to dupe the public with their "smoke and mirror" mentality to waste our tax dollars and secure patronage positions. The lack of transparency, accountability and functional programs continues to cause our animals to languish in cages, suffer and die.
The goal of the "Hope for Hempstead Shelter" grassroots movement is to raise public awareness until these programs are functional and successful by encouraging the utilization and participation of our community. Please visit www.hopeforhempsteadshelter.org to learn how.
(Editor's Note: Lucille DeFina is one of three Animal Shelter volunteers who filed a lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead.)