Municipal animal shelters have a responsibility to provide safe, humane conditions for animals, and to put trained staff and resources in place that ensure animals are found or adopted. It is also imperative that a shelter controls the feral cat population. Unfortunately, the Brookhaven Animal Shelter, home to more than a thousand animals, has failed on all fronts.
The Brookhaven Animal Shelter went months without hiring a new shelter Supervisor, until settling on a political appointment - a personal friend of the Commissioner of General Services (Martin Haley), who is a political appointment himself. The shelter went from having no behavior specialists on staff, to best prepare animals for adoption, to having a single, part-time specialist. The physical space at the shelter is too small, the medical budget is minimal, and the town has an insufficient partnership network with local adoption agencies. There is also no coherent strategy for the spay and neutering of Brookhaven’s significant feral cat population.
Despite being a No Kill shelter, Brookhaven euthanized over 4 percent of its animals last year, which is a rate more than 4 times higher than similar towns such as Hempstead and Southampton. That is unacceptable, and a direct result of not having a full-time training staff. It’s the reason why a perfectly healthy dog, like Rocco (pictured below), was killed at the shelter for behavioral problems.
My Plan To Modernize The Brookhaven Animal Shelter:
Hire a full-time training department with more than one behavior specialist.
Increase medical budget.
Open a second shelter space close to the north shore of Brookhaven, with the inclusion of a free-roaming cat room.
Remove the Animal Shelter from the umbrella of General Services, and appoint a Commissioner to oversee two shelter sites, with a competent, experienced Director at each site.
Hire two part-time veterinarians, to provide free spay and neuter services on demand, to significantly reduce the feral cat population.
End political appointments - all shelter employees must have relevant experience.
Use opt-in text messaging to alert citizens of lost pets.
Create a stakeholder network of local adoption agencies, to ensure pets are being found homes.
Establish a citizens panel, to create a healthy dialogue between the shelter Supervisor, local veterinarians, activists, and training experts on best practices.