“Political Abuse, Corruption, Nepotism and Cronyism” costing animals their lives.
Years ago, staff at the Town of Hempstead, NY, pound filmed themselves terrorizing a cat. As lazy, inept and cruel animal control officers stand around laughing, making obscene gestures, and goofing off, a very frightened cat is brought into the room and hung from the neck with a catchpole. While he struggles to escape, the “professionals” in the Town sadistically chant “kill the kitty, kill the kitty.”
In 2010, still under the reign of the “kill the kitty” crew and mentality, rescuers filed a lawsuit against the pound and the Town for violating their constitutional rights. They were banned from the shelter for speaking out against mismanagement, cronyism, and abuse of animals. The rescuers won.
In 2012, a NYS Comptroller audit of the Town pound confirmed gross financial mismanagement, including taxpayers being overcharged $12.7 million for the running of the shelter.
Following the lawsuit and audit, things began to improve–including the removal of political appointees to the pound which bled it dry financially with high salaries, runaway overtime, and other financial irregularities while the animals were left to suffer. Eventually, however, a new staff member and then manager was hired from NYC’s notoriously abusive pound. According to lawsuits filed this week by staff and volunteers, that is when the improvements ended.
The Complaints allege that pound managers are once again verbally abusing rescuers and volunteers, denying the animals prompt and necessary veterinary care, and retaliating against anyone who speaks out by killing animals they are trying to save. Staff allege that the pound manager used killing “as a tool to send his message. If he is not obeyed, the animals will pay the price.”
Specifically, plaintiffs state that pound managers:
- Refer to rescuers not as partners, but “EDPs” (emotionally disturbed people). The mission is no longer to save animals but to manage inventory. And managing inventory means killing them.
- Deny veterinary care and rescue to animals to punish whistleblowers, leading to the death of animals.
- Illegally alter government documents/shelter records to justify killing.
- Intimidate, defame, and harass staff and volunteers who express concerns about animal care.
Once again, the Town of Hempstead will be forced to learn a vital lesson; one every municipal shelter manager in America should commit to memory:
Rescuers and volunteers not only have a First Amendment right to speak out against mismanagement, poor care, regressive policies, unwanted practices, and abuses of power committed by a government shelter, they have a constitutionally protected right to demand that the government correct the wrongs that are identified.
An article about the lawsuits is here.
The pleadings in the case are here.
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