This American Staffordshire waits to be adopted from the Town...

This American Staffordshire waits to be adopted from the Town of Hempstead Animal shelter in Wantagh. (Jan. 26, 2011) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Town of Hempstead has hired an adoption coordinator and rescue liaison for its beleaguered animal shelter.

The liaison, Wendy Cariello of Baldwin, will start Thursday, while the adoption coordinator, Shari Polen of Jericho, will start Monday, town spokesman Michael Deery said Tuesday.

Cariello, who worked at the Baldwin Animal Hospital and was referred by the Freeport Animal Shelter, will make $15 an hour.

Initially, she will work part-time to assess the need at the shelter with the possibility of becoming a full-time employee.

Polen, who was recommended by PAWS New England, will make $45,000 a year in her full-time position.

Protesters at the Hempstead Town Board meeting Tuesday pushed officials to move more quickly in creating a new volunteer program.

Supervisor Kate Murray said the town would work to create a volunteer program the "right" way and wouldn't rush.

The preliminary components of the program would include screening, education and training shelter volunteers.

The shelter has come under fire in recent weeks following a Newsday investigation last month that revealed one-third of the shelter's staff, most of them GOP loyalists, earned more than $100,000 each last year.

In October, town officials conducting an internal review brought concerns about the shelter to the Nassau County district attorney's office, which began its own investigation.

The town removed the shelter's director and adoption coordinator at the time, but details of the inquiries were not made public.

Hempstead officials have said administrative matters, not mistreatment of animals, are at issue.

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