Animal shelter official removed from post

Patricia Horan of the Town of Hempstead Animal

Patricia Horan of the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter holds a cocker spaniel that was taken from a Rockville Centre home. (Jan. 13, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Patricia Horan, acting director of the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, has been removed from her post after a nearly two-decade-old video surfaced on the Internet that purports to show her and other shelter employees with a kitten about to be euthanized.

Town spokesman Mike Deery said Horan, who was paid more than $100,000 last year and named acting shelter director in November, has been reassigned as of Monday in Hempstead's General Services Department and would continue to collect pay as circumstances around the tape are investigated.

Deery said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray plans an immediate search for a new director of the shelter, which had a budget of $7.1 million last year. Deery said Horan appears in the opening moments of the video.

"Kate was shocked and dismayed by what she saw on the video," Deery said.

The video, which has been posted on YouTube and a community blog, and lasts about a minute, shows a man bringing a caged kitten into a room in the shelter before another man pulls it out with a pole. The man who brought the animal into the room where the video was shot asks someone off camera, "Debbie, you want to kill a kitten?" "Debbie" is not identified.

Then an off-camera voice says, "Kill the kitty! Kill the kitty!" The video states in text that the speaker is Horan. Deery said Horan has told town officials that she's not the speaker. Had she admitted saying those words, she would have been fired, he said.

"Clearly, Ms. Horan can be seen walking out of the room, while the voice on camera seems to be in very close proximity to the camera's microphone," a town statement released Monday night reads.

Deery said the video is at least 17 years old. The man seen bringing in the caged cat stopped working for the town more than 16 years ago, he said. And the man who pulls the animal out of the cage, Deery said, is a former employee of a local animal hospital, not the town.

In late February, Newsday reported that Horan -- who is among nine shelter employees paid more than $100,000 in 2010, seven of whom won GOP committee seats the previous year -- registered to vote in Nassau County in 2009, despite maintaining a residence in Suffolk County.

Horan, 52 and a shelter employee since 1985, registered to vote from the Nassau home of a Republican official in the county's Board of Elections office. County residency is a requirement to run for a Nassau GOP committee seat, which Horan did five months after registering to vote in Nassau.

A Nassau GOP attorney said in February that Horan had stepped down from the seat.

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