Suffolk officials create new charity for abused, neglected animals
Dove. a chocolate lab-pitbull mix, gnawed on her leash and wrestled with a staffer from the Brookhaven Animal Shelter on Monday, as Suffolk law enforcement officials announced a new charity they said will help raise funds for victims of animal abuse and neglect.
Dove's antics made the young, rambunctious pooch, the star of a news conference in Hauppauge where Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney and other officials gathered to announce the new initiative. Dove, Tierney said, was the victim of abuse and neglect and appointed her "spokespup" for abuses animals.
With that, Suffolk police, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney’s office signed a memorandum of agreement with the Fund for Animal Cruelty of Suffolk — FACTS — to raise money to care for dogs, cats and other animals that are the subject of prosecutions and investigations.
The arrangement is the first public-private partnership of its kind in the nation, officials said.
“Since becoming DA, my office has been involved in several hundred animal seizures,” Tierney said. “Each one represents a victim of cruelty who needs our help, to help make them well. We have an absolute duty to provide for these animals."
Dove, along with another dog and two cats, was seized in December by Suffolk County Sheriff’s deputies who executed an eviction in Coram, officials said. The dog was so emaciated that her ribs and hips were visible. She was so weak that she had trouble walking. She had lost hair and her body was covered with fleas and sores.
Dove, currently up for adoption at the Brookhaven shelter, has gained 10 pounds in the past six months.
Tierney said residents shower officials with offers of assistance when animal-cruelty cases are reported in the media. The memorandum of agreement with FACTS will allow people to help — and provide them with a tax deduction as well. No taxpayer funds are involved in the agreement, officials said.
Joyce Glass, a longtime animal advocate who founded the Stony Brook-based FACTS with Barbara Dennihy said animal cruelty is a gateway crime to domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse and other crimes.
“When animal crimes are addressed, our communities are safer,” she said.
Tierney said his office prosecuted 60 animal cruelty cases in 2022, up from 31 in 2021 and 30 in 2020. One reason is beefed-up enforcement by the district attorney’s Biological, Environmental and Animal Safety Team (BEAST). Tierney said animal abuse and neglect cases may have also arisen as a result of the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Animal cruelty cases, he said, rise during difficult financial times.
“There are often times when my deputy sheriffs are responding to a domestic violence incident, an eviction, or pursuing a warrant, there often find animals who are victims of cruelty and of abandonment,” said Sheriff Errol Toulon. “Many times we have come across cats and dogs living in deplorable conditions.”
Suffolk police commissioner Rodney Harrison said his officers are arresting people who abuse animals and holding them accountable, but that there was a dire need for resources for mistreated animals. He said FACTS will help law enforcement make sure “we get the assistance for those animals that are unfortunately going through a very difficult situation.”
BEAST, along with the Town of Brookhaven and ASPCA units from across the nation rescued nearly 300 neglected cats, rabbits, birds, tortoises and snakes in October from a Miller Place home. Officials said the home was infested with vermin and covered in feces. The case is ongoing, officials said.
Animal control officers and district attorney investigators found 118 rabbits in the home, 150 birds, 15 cats, seven tortoises and three snakes. The home was infested with mice and roaches, officials said.
“They are our friends, they become part of our family,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said of dogs, cats and other critters. “When you see someone abuse an animal, it says something about that person.”