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SPCA: Animal neglect charges for dog rescue group boss

Barbara Sanelli, 60, of Middle Island, was charged

Barbara Sanelli, 60, of Middle Island, was charged on Oct. 15, 2017, with multiple counts of animal neglect. Photo Credit: Suffolk County SPCA

The president of the Friends of Freddie Animal Rescue in Middle Island has been charged with animal cruelty after failing to provide proper medical care to rescue dogs, Suffolk County SPCA authorities said Monday.

SPCA detectives on Sunday charged Barbara Sanelli, 60, of Yaphank, with multiple counts of animal neglect, according to an SPCA news release.

Sanelli is scheduled to answer to the charges in First District Court in Central Islip on Dec. 14.

Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said Monday that the charges were the result of “many, many months of an intense investigation” that involved “many reports of sick and dying animals.”

Gross said the probe is continuing.

“This case is not over with — it is still ongoing and it may lead to additional charges,” Gross said.

Sanelli could not immediately be reached for comment, and a message left with a relative was not returned.

The charges brought Sunday are the latest allegations against the Friends of Freddie facility. Last year, Brookhaven Town had shut down and cited the nonprofit for numerous violations.

In April the state attorney general’s office announced it was investigating the pet rescue following unspecified complaints.

A spokeswoman for that office said Monday the investigation is continuing.

Also in April the pet rescue was hit with a lawsuit charging it was offering sick dogs for adoption and that fake pet medications were being distributed at the facility. Miller Place attorney Vesselin Mitev, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and three other Long Islanders who he said had adopted dogs there, said Monday that it has not been heard yet and “motions are pending.”

Updated information on the attorney general’s investigation was not immediately available Monday.

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