September 23, 2023

Bowlingual Dog

Animal Planet Directory

Brookhaven Animal Shelter repairs planned amid complaints about unsanitary conditions, mismanagement

Complaints from volunteers and a former supervisor that the Brookhaven Animal Shelter is dogged by unsanitary conditions, mismanagement and staffing problems boiled over last week after the adoption center was flooded during a storm.

More than a dozen volunteers and their supporters confronted town officials Thursday during an often testy public meeting at Town Hall in Farmingville. Repeating concerns expressed at previous meetings in recent months, volunteers cited what they said were appalling conditions at the Horseblock Road facility, including mold, feces-filled cages and ticks in unmown grass where dogs are taken for walks.

They said problems at the shelter were highlighted on July 16 when the shelter was deluged during a storm that dumped more than 4 inches of rain in parts of Suffolk County.

A state inspection four days later found water damage and drainage issues, resulting in an “unsatisfactory” rating, said Hanna Birkhead, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The shelter will be reinspected within a month to see if those problems were corrected, she said Tuesday in an email.

The shelter was cited for a Suffolk County health code violation on July 10 after an inspection found sewage in a floor drain between dog pens, Health Department spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern said Monday in an email. A July 11 follow-up inspection found the problem had been corrected, she said. 

Kathy O’Donnell, 59, a volunteer from Shirley, said town officials had ignored their concerns.

“The entire shelter is a disgusting disgrace,” she told the town board Thursday. “No other town buildings look like this.”

Brookhaven officials on Thursday defended their management of the facility but acknowledged some problems and said they plan to spend about $300,000 to make repairs that were planned before the flood. 

Deputy director of public safety David Moran, who is co-managing the facility on an interim basis, said volunteers overreacted to the storm, adding that floodwater quickly receded after bursting through a roof vent pipe.

“The ceiling didn’t collapse,” Moran said. “No dogs were drowned.”

Some volunteers and supporters jeered as Moran spoke, and a few walked out of the meeting.

Shelter volunteers, who are tasked with walking dogs so that paid staff can focus on other duties, began airing concerns months before the storm.

Their complaints have included allegations that the facility is understaffed and that former supervisor Linda Klampfl was forced to do her job for two months this year from Town Hall, about six miles from the shelter.

Klampfl said she resigned in late May after town officials told her to focus on administrative duties. She said the shelter “has been stripped of any support,” adding, “The bottom line is, the animals are suffering.”

Moran said shelter officials had failed to spend some funds allocated to the facility in recent years. He did not specify what funds were not spent. 

Town budget records show about $372,592 of last year’s $2.74 million budget was unspent. 

Klampfl said Monday she was not aware of under-spending until Moran’s comments at the town board meeting. She said she had been warned about overspending.

“I didn’t know about it,” she said. “That’s the first that I heard about it. I was told that I was over budget.”

Brookhaven Animal Shelter

The Brookhaven Animal Shelter has hundreds of dogs and cats available for adoption, and provides free spaying and neutering for cats, pit bulls and pit bull mixes. The shelter also collects stray animals and attempts to reunite lost pets with their owners.

Location: 300 Horseblock Rd., Brookhaven

Annual budget: $3,044,311

Full-time staff: 18

Part-time staff: 15

Currently sheltered: 119 dogs, 109 cats

2022 adoptions: 208 dogs, 150 cats

2023 adoptions (through June): 122 dogs, 111 cats

SOURCE: Brookhaven Town