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FORMER EMPLOYEES CLAIM DUTCHESS COUNTY SPCA WRONGFULLY EUTHANIZED OVER 72 ANIMALS
BY ALYSSA KOGON • ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 11/216
Ollivander, Mickey, Casino and Bear are just some of the names of the 72-plus beloved cats and dogs that were allegedly inappropriately euthanized by the Dutchess County SPCA during the tenure of new Executive Director Donna Angiolillo. Angiolillo seized the top spot some 10 months ago while she was serving on the board of the non-profit organization.
Serious accusations by former employee Christina Novak have surfaced and resulted in the Hyde Park institution to become the focus of intense public scrutiny from animal lovers and even public servants. Novak, along with others who were connected with the shelter, have gone so far as to start a Facebook group, “Dutchess County Animals Deserve Better,” in an attempt to bring to light the damaging claims. Although the SPCA says they adhere to a strict “no kill” policy that states “euthanasia is utilized only as a last resort,” Novak maintains that 27 dogs and 45 cats are documented as being unjustifiably killed under Angiolillo’s tenure. She also suggests there may be additional animals that were killed without the proper paperwork being filed.
In an email blast to the DCSPCA board of directors, donors and press, Novak provided documentation that included the names and identification numbers of the animals that were destroyed from the their Buddy database, which was apparently rounded up by former employees of the shelter. According to Novak, at least eight animals have died at the shelter recently to disease and medical negligence. A supposed shelter-wide epidemic of Parvo Virus and Distemper not only claimed the lives of numerous canines and caused a cumulative three week overall building closure due to unhealthy conditions, but also led to numerous SPCA community event cancellations, asserted Novak. “These are strong allegations but we have documentation,” Novak stated.
Along with the animal abuse and euthanization accusations, Novak has made claims that there has been misuse of donor funds and bullying and berating of employees by Angiolillo. Novak maintains that 12 of the organization’s 40 employees were fired without prior disciplinary actions or review since Angiolillo became the executive director. According to the former employee, eight board members have also resigned during this time. A New York State Attorney General’s office investigation has already been launched on behalf of the ex-employees, according to Novak.
On October 28, the DCSPCA held their 145th anniversary gala at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, but all of the attendees were not there to celebrate. A contingent of animal lovers picketed outside the event holding signs and photos of animals that had been killed this year. The group hoped to make their allegations public. They highlighted the life of shelter favorite Peyton who was put down this month purportedly without the benefit of being evaluated by a canine trainer, a decision supposedly made by the executive director.
Visitors to the “Dutchess County Animals Deserve Better” Facebook page can view a picture show of many of the animals that met their untimely demise at the DCSPCA along with their stories. The group calls itself “the voice of the voiceless” and has attracted quite a bit of attention from animal lovers around the country, many of whom have asked to help.
Although Angiolillo has been unavailable for comment, DCSPCA Board President Wayne Mabey put out a statement that read, “The board takes serious any allegations concerning animal welfare. We’ve met and discussed these allegations. We understand that people are passionate about animal welfare, and, in particular, euthanizations. We have confidence in our executive director and staff and that the proper procedures were followed.”
According to insiders, Angiolillo has been avoiding the public and has refused to make a statement on the claims.