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Jan 20, 2010 11:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Foundation takes reins at Southampton Town Animal Shelter

Jan 20, 2010 11:40 AM

The cats are still meowing and the dogs are still barking at the Southampton Town Animal Shelter, though their food, blankets and care are now being bought primarily with private donations and not taxpayer dollars.

Despite the Southampton Town logo still hanging outside the shelter building on Old Riverhead Road in Hampton Bays, the facility, as of January 1, is now being managed by the Southampton Town Animal Shelter Foundation, a not-for-profit that is now responsible for raising money to keep the shelter open.

The facility’s day-to-day operation is no longer the responsibility of Southampton Town. Former town supervisor Linda Kabot had called for slashing $1 million in funding for the shelter—its entire operating budget—when she released her tentative 2010 budget at the end of September. The town spent the next few months working out a deal with the foundation so it could take over the facility.

Philanthropist Susan Allen, who contributed $1.4 million to help build the shelter building in 1999, stepped in, and the foundation and town were able to reach a three-year contract in December in which the not-for-profit agreed to manage the facility and raise money needed for its operation. Under the terms of the contract, the town will give $200,000 to help fund the shelter in 2010, $250,000 in 2011, and $300,000 in 2012. Most of that money will go to maintenance of the grounds and facilities, said Donald Bambrick, who remains the supervisor of the animal shelter. The cost of the rest of the day-to-day operations at the shelter will now be funded with private donations.

“The shelter will be a better place,” Mr. Bambrick said of the changes.

The town still owns the building that the shelter occupies, and the foundation does not pay rent, explained Sony Schotland, the vice president of the not-for-profit’s board of directors.

It is still not clear how much money the foundation, which includes a board of directors, advisory committee and a veterinary council, will have to raise each year in order to keep the shelter running. Foundation members said this week that they are not worried about donations drying up. The community, they said, has always been very generous when it comes to donating to the organization, and plans are already in the works for a large fund-raiser in July, according to Jonathan McCann, the president of the board of directors.

“We’ll absolutely be able to fill the budget,” Mr. McCann said. “There’s no question about that.”

There were a lot of start-up costs that had to be absorbed because the shelter was “pretty bare bones” when the town was running it, Mr. Bambrick said. The foundation bought new bedding, toys and other items for the animals there, according to Susan Kelly, personnel director of the animal shelter. The foundation supplied “things that were considered a luxury, when they are a necessity,” she said.

But besides some new paint on the wall and a different funding stream, there are only a few changes at the shelter. “Not a heck of a lot has changed,” Mr. Bambrick said. “To the outside world, it’s the same on [January] 1st as it was on [December] 31st.”

Most of the town’s old policies, including its no-kill policy for dogs and cats, are still in place, and the shelter stills accept strays. The facility is now open for half an hour longer­—from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week­—and Southampton Town Animal Control will continue to operate out of the same building.

Dogs barked from inside their kennels on a recent afternoon at the shelter and Mario, a cat who is blind in one eye, purred in his cage and enjoyed some food as he awaited adoption. Employees buzzed with excitement as they brushed the cats and picked out leashes before taking the dogs for walks on the grounds.

“There’s a newfound dedication with employees,” said Wendy Altieri, a veterinary technician. “Everyone wants to be here for the animals.”

The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation has 12 full-time and four part-time employees now running the shelter. All nine workers who were employed at shelter when the town ran it were laid off when the foundation assumed control. The foundation rehired four of the employees, Ms. Kelly said.

One of the shelter’s former employees, Jeanine Susan Sullivan, 41, of Rocky Point, a former clerk, was arrested on Monday, January 18, two days after Southampton Town Police said she destroyed records after being laid off. Authorities said Ms. Sullivan threw about three dozen DVDs containing records into a Dumpster near the shelter at around 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 16. Police said she threw out the disks after learning that she was being laid off as a result of the shelter’s recent privatization.

Ms. Sullivan was charged with second-degree tampering with public records, a misdemeanor, according to police. She was arraigned the same day and released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled to return to court at a later date.

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God bless Susan Allen and all the people who are continuing the good work of the animal shelter.

When the takeover of the shelter was reported in the Press, the article stated that all the employees would keep their jobs with the exception of an assistant director. This article, however states that all the original employees were laid off.

I wonder if that was what motivated one of these former employees to throw out the DVDs. Did she feel betrayed, having been told that her ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 25, 10 4:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Best of luck to the foundation and thank you
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jan 25, 10 4:31 PM
a typical for the town to say one thing and then your out of a job who cares motto still appies
By asurest (117), easthampton on Jan 25, 10 5:17 PM
This paper may have stated that, but it was clear that all the town shelter employees were scheduled to be laid off. As far as I remember the town never said that employees at the shelter would keep their jobs.
The new formed foundation is not obligated to keep the town employees. They can hire who ever they want.
In my view the shelter and all of its dogs and cats are in much better hands with Susan Allen in charge. They will all be well cared for you can be sure.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jan 25, 10 6:55 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 25, 10 8:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
loose the poliitics and get back to helping the animals
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 25, 10 8:24 PM
I have no doubt that thre newly appointed staff at the [former] fown animal shlter wll prove to be much more adept at shepherding the shelter thorogh lean economic conomic times than the Town employees whom they are replacing.

The private takeover is s a labor of love in which each animal placed in a forever home is an emotional triumph for its caretakers, (as well as a certification that they are effective in the vocation that they have chosen as their life's work.) The same is not ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 26, 10 3:58 AM
If I remember correctly, it was reported that the Foundation would allow all town shelter employees an opportunity to apply for positions available once privatized. The only one promising jobs to all that were laid off by the Town when Sup. Kabot eliminated funding was another politician who in reality had no say as to who would be hired. It certainly appears that the Foundation (God bless Susan Allen) dodged a bullet when not hiring back a vindictive and destructive individual whose judgement is ...more
By pupdaddy (12), North Sea on Jan 26, 10 9:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
We visit the shelter every Sunday. The pets seem happy and well taken care of.
Thank goodness.
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Jan 27, 10 8:48 AM
"All nine workers who were employed at the shelter when the town ran it were laid off when the foundation assumed control. The foundation rehired four of the employees, Ms. Kelly said."

Clearly there were some employees that the new administration didn't want in their employee. It appears they were right about at least one person.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 28, 10 10:33 AM