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Smithtown officials shut down animal shelter Facebook page

Liaison to the town board cited harassment of shelter employees on the page as a reason to take it down.

Outside of the Smithtown Animal Shelter as seen

Outside of the Smithtown Animal Shelter as seen from Route 25. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Smithtown officials took down the Facebook page for the municipal animal shelter this week after Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo said it had become a vehicle for lies about animals under its care and for harassment of shelter employees.

“They said we were murdering dogs and cats, doing surgeries without anesthesia, all of it not being true,” Inzerillo said in a telephone interview.

The posts Inzerillo referred to could not be found Wednesday, and she said she could not share screenshots of them. Related posts by animal advocates accused officials of neglect and encouraged followers to call the police. One suggested town officials were “hiding” by taking down the page and encouraged readers of the post to call the police and “tell them the shelter is abusing animals.”

Smithtown’s Public Safety Department has operated the facility since the suspension earlier this year of shelter director Sue Hansen. She was fired in July for what officials called incompetence and mismanagement.

The shelter’s previous director, George Beatty, was also accused of mismanagement by animal advocates. In a 2015 interview before his retirement, he called his critics liars. “Because we have Facebook and social media, they spew untruths,” he said. “They hide behind the screen with a keyboard.”

Inzerillo, the town board’s liaison to the shelter, said animals at the shelter were well cared for and healthy, and invited the public to visit the facility.

“I’m very proud of what’s happening there,” she said.

She blamed the posts on “disgruntled former employees.”

The shelter website remains operating, as does its page on the petfinder.com website.

Town officials have said they will spend up to $2.4 million to rebuild and modernize the shelter.

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