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Huntington will not renew contract with cat shelter operator

The Town of Huntington has decided to end

The Town of Huntington has decided to end its relationship with the League for Animal Protection to operate the Grateful Paw Cat Shelter, shown here on Thursday, May 25, 2017 in East Northport. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Town of Huntington officials will not renew a contract with the operator of a cat shelter on town property in East Northport because of the group’s failure to file Internal Revenue Service paperwork.

The IRS revoked the nonprofit designation of the League for Animal Protection of Huntington, Inc. in 2015 for failure to file the required forms that not-for-profits submit instead of tax returns.

Town officials also said that for the tax years beginning with 2011, the league failed to file the federal Form 990 or a required form with the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.

On April 20, LAP was advised by town officials that the expired license would not be renewed for the Grateful Paws Cat Shelter and that the organization had 90 days to vacate the premises.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” said Deborah Larkin, president and treasurer of the League for Animal Protection of Huntington, Inc.

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said they were alerted to the situation when town officials were in the process of working on a renewal earlier this year. He said a resident notified the town in early March that he had incurred a penalty with the IRS for claiming a tax deduction for a donation to LAP.

“They never let us know what was going on,” Petrone said.

He added that the group has advertised and raised money as a not-for profit without having proper paperwork.

The Grateful Paw Cat Shelter was built in 1982 under an agreement with the Town. The group has volunteers who also help out at the town dog shelter, which is on the same parcel of land.

Larkin said the situation is “awful” and that they are working to resolve the issue including firing its accounting firm, hiring a new accounting firm and retaining legal counsel.

“We’ve passed a resolution saying we will reimburse anybody the penalty and taxes they have incurred if they just reach out to us,” she said, referring to a board resolution.

Town officials said LAP must also remove any of its materials out of the Town’s dog shelter by Friday.

Town officials issued a request for proposals for a certified tax-exempt not-for-profit to operate a cat shelter on May 18. So far two potential responders have toured the cat shelter, town officials said.

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