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Glen Cove evicts longtime animal shelter leadership

Joan Phillips and Ruth DiChiara, operators of Animal

Joan Phillips and Ruth DiChiara, operators of Animal Lovers League of Glen Cove, were served in December 2014 with a legal order to leave the city-owned facility by Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. The league is seeking a vacate date of March 1. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The nonprofit that has run Glen Cove's animal shelter for 20 years is being forced out by the city as of Jan. 15 and will be replaced by another group.

City officials served the Animal Lovers League of Glen Cove on Dec. 3 with a notice to vacate the premises at 40 Shore Rd., after talks broke down. The Cove Animal Rescue, a newly formed nonprofit, will operate the facility, city officials said.

"The bottom line is that it has been a wonderful run, but there is room for improvement," said City Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles, liaison to the shelter, at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Mayor Reginald Spinello said he supports the change. "It's all about the animals. I feel very good about the [new] group . . . they are an assortment of talented individuals."

Peebles declined to name the new board members. Stefan Geiringer of Lattingtown is listed as a member on state documents, which Peebles confirmed Wednesday.

Joan Phillips, the League's co-founder and president, said they met with city officials in October and refused the city's demand to put members on the organization's board. "We felt that wasn't their realm to enter a nonprofit," Phillips said.

She said they were then told that a new organization would take over, but city officials would not give details.

The League then voted not to oppose the new group and to vacate, as long as city officials assured them the animals would be taken care of as well or better.

Last month, League leaders proposed to vacate by March 31. Phillips said she left a meeting with city officials thinking their attorneys would agree on how the transition would occur. Then, they were served with the notice to quit, she said.

"After having been at the meeting last [Tuesday] night, I have grave concerns about the qualifications of the group that's coming in, especially because they wouldn't reveal who they are," Phillips said. "I am worried about the animals."

Peebles said there were mounting complaints the shelter "was beginning to be viewed as a storage facility" of animals. The group was not engaged in adoption events and outreach, and information about shelter policies and operations she requested was "incomplete and inadequate," she said.

Phillips said they never received details about complaints and that they run a "successful" shelter with trained staff and frequent adoption and outreach programs.

The League operates the shelter for the city. It takes in and adopts out cats and dogs and receives about $93,000 each year from the city, which also provides maintenance, a van and pays for utilities. Its annual operating budget is about $385,000, which includes salaries for four full-time and three part-time employees, League officials said.

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