Plattsburgh animal shelter shuttered

A sign announcing the closure of the Adirondack Humane Society to the general public is posted on the Plattsburgh shelter's door. 

PLATTSBURGH — The Adirondack Humane Society shelter in Plattsburgh has been closed to the public “until further notice.”

The non-profit organization is in debt, the Press-Republican has learned, and has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization.

Also, the shelter manager was fired this month.

VIRUS AMONG CATS

A note in the window of the door to the 134 Idaho Ave. facility announced the unexpected shutdown. Through a display window, about a dozen cats looked out from beds on three shelves Wednesday evening.

Board member William Tallman said a virus had recently spread among the shelter’s cat population and that the facility had been closed while treatment was ongoing.

The society was in touch with a local veterinary office to assist with the situation, he said, declining to identify the specific office.

The society contacted Brian Shapiro, director of the New York state branch of the Humane Society of the United States, to discuss giving some of the animals new homes, Tallman said.

Shapiro had said there were too many cats for the size of the Humane Society’s shelter and that splitting up the population would lessen the chance of reinfection, Tallman said.

According to Tallman, the facility was currently housing 11 dogs and about 80 cats.

Many of the dogs could be seen running around a fenced-in play area Thursday morning.

IN THE RED IN 2012

Minutes from an Oct. 2 emergency meeting of Adirondack Humane Society's Executive Board, acquired and verified by the Press-Republican, said the animals housed there will be taken to other no-kill shelters.

A motion was made and passed unanimously to begin the procedures for filing Chapter 11 reorganization.

According to Form 990 non-profit tax records found through the ProPublica journalism resource website, Adirondack Humane Society Inc. had a total revenue in 2012 of $252,514 (the latest figures available), with total functional expenses of $304,716, for a net loss of $52,302, with 46.3 percent of total expenses going toward salaries and wages.

Motions were also made and passed to remove from their positions Acting President Nancy Paiser and Shelter Manager Betty Corrow.

Present at the Oct. 2 meeting were board members Ryan Norwood, Carrie Ann Rollier, Brielle Phillips, Terry Drake, Melissa Benner and William Tallman, according to the minutes. Listed absent was Paiser.

The board accepted Phillips's resignation before the meeting's end, and Rollier has since stepped down as well.

DIRECTOR'S DEFENSE

The Humane Society's closure was effective Oct. 3, and earlier this week, the organization’s Facebook page disappeared.

An archived version of the page, however, contained a post signed by Corrow claiming that she believed she had been wrongfully terminated and saying that members of the board had accused her of poisoning animals at the facility.

“Anyone who knows me, can vouch that hurting an animal is not something in my nature,” the statement read.

Maintaining her innocence, Corrow said the virus that had infected the shelter’s cats had also claimed the life of her daughter’s cat, Patches.

A petition with the full statement is posted on change.org calling for Corrow's reinstatement; it had 311 signatures and more than 100 comments in support of Corrow as of press time on Thursday.

Tallman refused to comment on the meeting minutes, position terminations or bankruptcy motions.

Corrow said she could not talk about her firing and that she has retained an attorney; Paiser also would not comment.

No members of the board except Tallman responded to the Press-Republican despite phone messages and notes left at their homes.

TOWN CONCERNS

Founded in 1983, the society grew from a system of volunteer foster homes for homeless or unwanted pets to obtaining its current facility, a former Air Force base kennel, in the mid 1990s, according to the society’s website.

The Town of Plattsburgh contracts with Adirondack Humane Society to house animals collected by the town’s dog-control officer, Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett said.

Along with straining the resources of Dog-Control Officer David Duquette, closure of the shelter would remove a valuable option for pet owners unable to handle the financial needs of their pets, Bassett said.

“It’s very expensive for pet owners to provide all the care that they need, the shots, the vet visit, food, etc. and many times good people have to abandon their pets, so what’s going to happen with them?” he said.

The town was exploring options for alternative organizations to fill the role of the Humane Society, Bassett said.

Dave Drollette, dog-control officer for the Town of Peru, confirmed that town was also under contract with the Humane Society, but he was unable to provide further details about the services.

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