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Smithtown supervisor: Town’s animal shelter supervisor suspended

Sue Hansen is shown in this Nov. 30,

Sue Hansen is shown in this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Smithtown Town animal shelter supervisor Sue Hansen was suspended Tuesday during an executive session of the town board, Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Friday.

Town public safety officers escorted Hansen out of the shelter Wednesday afternoon, and Hansen’s name has been removed from the shelter website.

Vecchio would not comment on the reasons for Hansen’s suspension. He said the officers’ presence was not extraordinary after suspension of an employee.

“It’s normal procedure to ensure that any property they’re in possession of is safeguarded, and to obtain keys they may have for town buildings,” he said.

Hansen will have a disciplinary hearing, Vecchio said. He did not know when or where. Hansen could not immediately be reached Friday.

Russ Barnett, head of the Smithtown Administrators Guild, the union representing about 30 town department heads and supervisors, including Hansen, could not immediately be reached.

In a text message, Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo wrote that the “Town is looking into all aspects of the Animal Shelter at this time.”

Inzerillo’s campaign page on Facebook features a post from Wednesday that showed her with parks head Joe Arico and public safety head John Valentine outside the shelter. The post read “Many thanks to our Parks Department Staff for working so hard cleaning and repairing the Shelter. There will be a few more weeks of continued work.”

She referred questions to the town attorney’s office. Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski did not respond to requests for comment.

Public safety employees with a background in “animal care” are managing the shelter, Vecchio said.

The previous shelter supervisor resigned in 2015 under fire from animals’ advocates, who said under his leadership the shelter had become dirty and cats were suffering from infections, claims he denied.

Also in 2015, the three appointed members of a shelter advisory council resigned, citing the town board’s failure to act on their recommendations.

Councilwoman Lynn Nowick said in November that conditions had dramatically improved, in part because of Hansen’s leadership.

“We have flipped that shelter around to a model shelter,” she said.

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