Dogs at the Riverhead Animal Shelter didn't have much to be celebrate on Thanksgiving, according to one resident.
Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Civic Association, said he went to visit the Riverhead Animal Shelter on the day after Thanksgiving to visit an older dog, Sonya. "She is a sweet animal but seniors are hard to place for adoption, and I worry about her," he said.
When he arrived, Taldone said he believed the shelter had been closed for over 24 hours, from Thanksgiving at 1 p.m. until after 1 p.m. Friday.
"No one to get rid of the poo, give the dogs water, food, or plain attention," he said. "Those dogs sure have nothing to be thankful for this year."
When he arrived, Taldone said Noreen LeCann, the town's animal advisory committee chairwoman, and others were waiting at the gate, which was locked.
"Two other volunteers were there who said they had tried to get in the day before and the place was closed," Taldone said. "Noreen confirmed that no staff were present and that she was waiting for the part time animal control officer, Maureen, to arrive for the afternoon shift."
Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said an attendant had been to the shelter on Thanksgiving. "Someone is there every day," he said. "We don't leave the dogs alone for a day."
Hegermiller said the shelter is short-staffed, since animal control officer Jessica Eibs-Stankaitis is currently home recovering after being mauled by a pit bull at the shelter in October.
"But there is always someone there to take care of the dogs," Hegermiller assured. "We have to get in there on a daily basis to clean and feed them."
Taldone, however, expressed concerns. "Those dogs should not be without even a bucket of water and some food for 24 hours. No matter who called in sick or how short-staffed they are, there are just no acceptable excuses."