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Smithtown seeks new director for animal shelter

The municipal shelter was temporarily run by the public safety department after an internal investigation found the facility was poorly managed and will once again be a separate town department.

The spring and summer are busy times for

The spring and summer are busy times for caring and finding homes for shelter kittens, Smithtown officials said. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Smithtown is looking for an animal shelter supervisor to oversee about 10 staffers and the dogs, cats and occasional wild animals they care for.

The job search comes after an April 9 agreement between the town and the Smithtown Administrators Guild, the union representing department heads and administrators, re-established the shelter as a separate town department.

Public safety director John Valentine took over the shelter in 2017 after an internal investigation found the shelter was dirty and poorly managed. Shelter director Sue Hansen was suspended and later fired. Animal advocates had also criticized the shelter director she replaced.   

“We want to do right by the animals and maintain the job that we’ve done so far,” town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said. 

The union agreement states that Valentine will have no “change in salary or benefits” in connection with the change of duties, but Garguilo said a $5,000 yearly stipend Valentine received for his animal shelter work would cease.

“I believe the time is right” to turn over shelter management, Valentine said. “We’ve transformed that whole shelter, not only the physical operation but also at a high level of precision with regards to policies and procedures.”

Valentine is now overseeing new public safety officers after the retirement this year of four veterans and also manages the town’s grant applications, Garguilo said.

Candidates for the $85,000 shelter job should have a veterinary technician’s license and managerial experience in animal care, including budgeting and working with governmental agencies, she said.

Garguilo said the spring and summer “kitten season” is a busy time for shelter workers, who will need to care or find foster families for about 100 kittens on top of the 55 to 60 cats and seven dogs it already houses.

The town council last year solicited proposals for private management of the shelter but abandoned the idea because the contractors who submitted proposals wanted to use their own staff, Garguilo said. Shelter operating costs would have gone up under privatization, she said.

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