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Resident Says Town Left Shelter Dogs Alone For 24 Hours

Police Chief David Hegermiller said the charge is untrue.

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."







Vince Taldone November 28, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Perhaps the PD chief needs to check his department's time sheets. He denies that the dogs were left unattended for over 24 hours which should be easy enough to verify. If my assertion is in incorrect, the town should tell us which employee was there at the shelter during that 24 hour period from 1 pm Thanksgiving Day until after 1 pm the following day. Did any of the dogs get out for a breath of fresh air in either day? No they didn't. So who is making untrue or misleading statements? Not me!
Anne Marie November 28, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Hmmm... I smell a cover-up somewhere. Mrs. LeCann (imo, considering I've had the distinct pleasure of having her as a teacher) has an untouchable reputation of the highest quality and I seriously doubt that she'd lie about this. The cops... well, just take a look at their track record.
Bob November 29, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Technically, the chief is correct. He didn't leave the dogs alone for a calendar day: someone was with the dogs until 1pm on the Thursday, someone came to attend to the dogs on Friday around 1:30. The chief DID, though, leave the dogs unattended for more than 24 hours. Being "short staffed" is not an excuse. Thank God he doesn't run the hospital.... The shelter is run by the police department and, even though the shelter is "short staffed," the chief could have certainly sent one his officers over to check in and feed the dogs and give them water. Hopefully he'll think next time he decides to neglect dogs. Shame on Hegermiller! Thank you, Riverhead Patch, for including Sonja's photo with this article. Sonja needs a forever home. You can see a video of her here: http://youtu.be/Q-YL0NKUjFM


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