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George Beatty, Smithtown animal shelter director, to retire June 30

Cats spend the afternoon lounging in the cat

Cats spend the afternoon lounging in the cat room at the Town of Smithtown Animal Shelter in Smithtown on May 21, 2015. Credit: Heather Walsh

Smithtown Animal Shelter director George Beatty, who animal welfare advocates have accused of mismanagement, is retiring.

Beatty, 62, whose wife died recently, is scheduled to leave his post June 30, Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio told a town board meeting Thursday.

"He takes care of his grandchildren, and he has said to the town board, as of today, that he intends to retire," Vecchio told attendees.

Upon hearing the announcement, some in the audience applauded.

"It's difficult for me to leave, but I do know that we've accomplished a tremendous amount here," Beatty said in an interview on Friday, referring to increased dog adoptions and a trap-neuter-release program during the past eight years. "We've sterilized more than 1,200 feral cats in the Smithtown community."

Beatty, whose 2015 salary is $119,629, said he has been devoted to animals his whole life, working previously for 11 years at the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter. He described criticisms by detractors as "vile."

Residents have alleged that Beatty allowed cats to suffer from infections without proper treatment and have cited a video that appears to show Beatty going to a bar during a work day.

"Because we have Facebook and social media, they spew untruths," Beatty said. "They hide behind the screen with a keyboard."

Beatty said his tenure hasn't been easy -- particularly when the shelter euthanized animals regularly to manage its intake population before the early 2000s. "If this job did not disturb you when we used to have to euthanize, then you shouldn't be employed here," he said.

Vecchio wished Beatty a nice retirement, saying Friday that he is "a dedicated public servant. The last year of controversy was tough on him and his family, and that's pretty sad."

Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick, the board's shelter liaison, said the town will look at the Suffolk County Civil Service list for Beatty's replacement.

Caroline Ward, 50, of St. James, said Beatty's retirement was "absolutely 100 percent what we needed in this town. I really believe that the town board has heard enough. The problem is gone, and we need to move forward to get a better shelter for our future."

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