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Huntington Town selects Little Shelter to run cat refuge

Officials dropped the town’s longtime operator, League for Animal Protection, over nonprofit status, required forms.

Little Shelter executive director David Ceely with kitten

Little Shelter executive director David Ceely with kitten Sheryl Lee on Nov. 10, 2017. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center has been selected to operate the Huntington Town cat shelter in East Northport, ending a 35-year agreement with the previous volunteer group operator.

Little Shelter was the winner of a request for proposals issued Oct. 5 by the town. Little Shelter responded, as did the League for Animal Protection, which had been the operator since 1982.

“Little Shelter has well over 250 volunteers, they have 50 people hired on the payroll, and they pledged to open seven days a week, so it’s a much more extensive operation, a much larger one compared to anybody else,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said.

Little Shelter executive director David Ceely said the organization is “delighted” about being selected.

“We’re excited to help the community on an even broader scale,” Ceely said. “We’re already there for the town, now we are expanding and will be able to help in an even bigger way.”

In May, town officials said they would not renew the League for Animal Protection’s contract because of the group’s failure to file IRS paperwork, which led to the suspension of its nonprofit status. League representatives did not inform the town about the revocation, officials have said. The status was retroactively reinstated in July.

For the tax years beginning in 2011, the league also failed to file federal and state forms required for charities. Those issues also have been cleared up, league president Deborah Larkin said.

She questioned the timing of the announcement of the winning request for proposal (RFP), which was due to the town by Nov. 3. Little Shelter’s selection became public Nov. 9.

“I’d like to hope every council member and the departing supervisor had the time to read our RFP carefully,” Larkin said. “I hate to think our RFP was an exercise in futility and their minds were already made up.”

A five-person panel, made up of representatives from the town attorney and Public Safety departments, including the animal shelter, evaluated the RFP responses, town officials said.

The request for proposals was similar to one issued in May, but added requirements to reduce the size of the feral cat colony outside the shelter. It also required officials be able to terminate the agreement at any time and for any reason, including failure to operate on scheduled days and hours, failure to have staff available for emergency cat pickup, and failure to maintain yearly IRS tax filings showing nonprofit status.

Town officials said the board deferred action on the previous RFP after hearing testimony from League for Animal Protection supporters at Town Board meetings in the spring while also extending their contract until Nov. 30. Little Shelter is to begin operating the shelter in January. Until then, the League for Animal protection will “have access to work at the cat shelter,” town spokesman A.J. Carter said Monday.

A public hearing is to be held Dec. 13 to discuss Little Shelter’s licensing agreements because operating the shelter involves town property. The hearing is to take place during the monthly town board meeting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Main St.

Some criteria for Huntington Town’s cat shelter

  • Proof of nonprofit status
  • Sufficient employees or volunteers to operate the facility as expected
  • Plans for emergency cat pickup and adoption criteria
  • The operator will be required to care for any cats currently at the shelter, feed and neuter or spay the existing feral cat colony at the shelter.

Source: Town of Huntington

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