Huntington Town Board Mulls New Cat Shelter Operator

Town of Huntington officials are considering a new operator for its Grateful Paw Cat Shelter.   Long Islander News Photo/Archives

Town of Huntington officials are considering a new operator for its Grateful Paw Cat Shelter. Long Islander News Photo/Archives

By Janee Law

The Huntington Town Board is eying a new operator for the Grateful Paw Cat Shelter in East Northport.

Earlier this year, the board ordered current cat shelter operator League for Animal Protection (LAP) to vacate by Nov. 30 after it learned the nonprofit had its tax-exemption status revoked in 2015.

On Oct. 5, the board issued a request for proposal seeking a new operator for the 104 Deposit Road cat shelter. The request drew two responses, one from LAP and another from Huntington-based Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center.

A five-person panel composed of members from the town attorney’s office and public safety department evaluated responses based on a required criteria that included proof of not-for-profit status; a suitable number of employees and volunteers; and two years intake records, including adoption and medical records.

The licensee chosen to operate the cat shelter would pay an annual $250 fee through a five-year term, according to the town resolution.

During its meeting last Thursday, the town board scheduled a public hearing on a resolution that, if approved, would make Little Shelter the new operator. The hearing is set for Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at Huntington Town Hall.

David Ceely, executive director of Little Shelter, said it sought the opportunity to run the cat shelter because it wants to maximize the shelter’s potential.

“That’s what we’re really focusing on, the potential there to save animals lives and to help animals,” Ceely said.

If the board chooses Little Shelter, Ceely said, the goal will be to bring “awareness on a different scale to that facility and make sure that we’re saving as many animals as possible in the community.”

Current cat shelter operator, Huntington-based LAP, has been in the role for the past 35 years.

However, earlier this year the board opted to not renew its 10-year agreement with the organization, and asked it to vacate, after learning its tax-exemption status was revoked in May 2015 due to necessary state and federal paperwork not being filed.

Deborah Larkin, LAP president, said the organization’s tax-exemption status has since been retroactively reinstated, ensuring no gap in coverage.

Larkin said she hopes the supervisor, each town council member and the committee took the time to carefully read each proposal.

“There was a lot of information that they required and I would hate to think this response was an exercise in futility for us, and that their minds were already made up,” Larkin said. “We’ve been there for 35 years, doing this job at no cost to the town and no cost to the taxpayer, so I’m not sure why someone would want to change it.”