The Oyster Bay Town Board has extended a contract for euthanizing dogs at the town animal shelter as officials work on finalizing revised internal guidelines for its operation.
The town imposed a moratorium on euthanizing dogs after a group of animal welfare activists came to a Town Board meeting last spring and criticized existing policies. Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino announced at that meeting that the shelter’s policies would be evaluated before resuming euthanizations.
Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. said on Wednesday the town’s review of its policies showed the shelter provided “proper treatment” of animals, but a revised internal policy, expected to be finalized within weeks, will require documenting additional information to explain why euthanasia was used in particular cases.
The town’s shelter staff doesn’t arbitrarily euthanize animals, Carman said.
“They look at these animals as if they're their own pets,” Carman said. “It’s never an easy decision. If an animal is put down, it’s put down because we feel there’s no other choice.”
The town’s previously reported statistics didn’t show the reason animals were euthanized and could include animals that arrived at the shelter already dead or near death, Carman said.
Newsday previously reported that town records showed that in 2018, 59 out of 261 dogs taken in were euthanized. Last year, the shelter accepted 213 dogs and euthanized 27, according to figures provided by the town.
The board on Jan. 7 approved a one-year extension of the euthanasia contract with Westbury-based veterinarian Laurence Blauvelt of Carman Avenue Veterinary Hospital for up to $8,000. The board also extended contracts with Blauvelt for basic animal care, emergency services and neutering and spaying at the shelter.
In August, the town issued a new request for proposals for a canine behaviorist or training organizations to “evaluate and assess the behavior of all canines so as to ascertain their suitability for adoption.” The contractor would also create written evaluations and rehabilitate and train dogs, according to the RFP.
Carman said the town received four responses and will likely decide on a contractor in the next week.
Lori Prisand, a retired accountant from Plainview who was among the activists who came to the meeting last year, said town officials have met with them regularly and have been responsive to their concerns, particularly what she said had been the misevaluation of animals as aggressive that had to be put down.
“We’re really making change,” Prisand said. “They’re not killing animals anymore for the wrong reasons.”