A cat in the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in...

A cat in the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh. (Jan. 26, 2011) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

About 50 animal welfare advocates marched outside the Town of Hempstead animal shelter Saturday afternoon, calling for improved conditions at the Wantagh facility and the ouster of Town Supervisor Kate Murray.

"Kate's gotta go," the group chanted as they circled in front of the building in cold drizzle, holding signs and umbrellas.

Hope for Hempstead Shelter, which describes itself as a group of advocates and taxpayers, organized the event, among several protests that have alleged animal abuse at the facility. The latest outcry came after a Newsday story last week revealed that a third of the shelter's full-time staff, and most of them GOP loyalists, made more than $100,000 last year.

The story is "a red flag that tells us we need a deeper investigation here," said Derek Donnelly, a Democrat and director of Hope for Hempstead.

The group is conducting a letter-writing campaign urging the state comptroller to investigate the shelter's finances. It is also urging the state attorney general to investigate. The town is investigating and the Nassau district attorney's office is looking into what Murray has called administrative issues, at the town's request.

Mike Deery, a town spokesman, said Saturday the shelter is "very well run" and that no "credible authority has found any wrongdoing."

"Clearly, the money is being spent where it needs to be," he said in a telephone interview.

The protests began last October, when an internal town probe found what officials described as "issues that call for further assessment and investigation."

The town transferred the acting director. In December, three animal rescuers banned from the shelter filed a lawsuit alleging they were retaliated against for speaking out about what they said was animal abuse.

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