Riverhead dog shelter boss headed out

02/07/2011 1:57 PM |
The Riverhead Town Animal Shelter on Youngs Avenue in Calverton.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Riverhead Town Animal Shelter on Youngs Avenue in Calverton.

Riverhead’s embattled head animal control officer Lou Coronesi will likely be transferring to another department within town government, animal advocates told the News-Review Monday.

Town Supervisor Sean Walter did not deny those rumors, though he declined to discuss specific personnel matters with a reporter.

“Personnel changes are in the works,” Mr. Walter said. “I think the hiring committee found a very highly qualified part-time animal control officer and other changes are in the works. We’re moving in the right direction. I think people will be happy.”

Former shelter volunteer and outspoken critic of the town’s shelter operations, Sue Hansen of Rocky Point said Mr. Coronesi’s potential departure “was a long time coming.”

“I hope the shelter has turned the corner and we’ll start to see some progressive changes,” she said.

She and others have criticized Mr. Coronesi’s handling of shelter dogs and his treatment of volunteers, some of whom have been banned from the shelter.

Volunteers and staffers at the shelter, which is overseen by the Riverhead Police Department, have battled for years over operations at the Youngs Avenue facility. The long-simmering feud came to a boil in late December after a male pit bull named Bruno was euthanized over the protests of volunteers who contended he wasn’t dangerous. Mr. Coronesi told Mr. Walter the dog had attacked a child, according to the supervisor, but it was later revealed through a bite report that the victim was a 22-year-old man who was trying to break up a dog fight at the time of the incident.

Councilman Jim Wooten, who has served as Town Board liaison to the shelter, said Monday he was glad the supervisor “has recognized a change is sorely needed” at the shelter.

“The town is finally moving in the right direction,” Mr. Wooten said.

But he also said bigger changes are necessary.

“What’s really needed up there is a shelter supervisor who handles just the shelter; that’s really where we have to move,” Mr. Wooten said. “If we really want this shelter to be a community shelter and do the right thing for the animals entrusted in our care we have to have a shelter director who reports directly to the supervisor. Take the police department out of it; take the animal control officers out of running the shelter. The ACO has enough to do enforcing the laws. It’s problematic and it’s been problematic forever. And its at the breaking point because of trust issues and poor decisions as of late.”

Mr. Wooten envisions a public and private partnership for animal control and adoptions, respectively.

Town officials issued a request for proposals from organizations last year in a quest to privatize the shelter, but only one group, the Riverhead Shelter Volunteers Program Inc., or RSVP, responded. Its plans for the shelter were not considered viable.

Deborah Benjamin, one of the co-founders of RSVP, which runs an outreach spay and neuter program in Riverhead called Responsible Solutions for Valued Pets, said the volunteers welcomed the news Monday of Mr. Coronesi’s departure.

She said she’s hopeful the shelter will be run differently with new leadership.

“We were founded circa 1196, and it has been a 15-year battle,” Ms. Benjamin said. “I hate to say battle but politics is politics and the shelter doesn’t really fall high up there on the list of priorities for funding. But I am cautiously optimistic that the information we’re hearing is the first step in a turning this pound into a shelter. To us, animals should be respected and we have not seen that in Riverhead at this point.”

Mr. Coronesi could not be immediately reached for comment.

[email protected]


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55 Comment

  • I think Superintendent Harris made it perfectly clear to the board that the travel costs would undoubtedly be better than offset by gleaning information necessary to get the best equipment for the expenditure by talking with the manufacturers directly. We are fortunate to have a Highway Super who gets the job done,within budget, and has an uncanny knack for saving the Town real money on equipment. So we tie his hands?
    I can’t help thinking that if it was in Dubucque or Fargo it would have been approved. But watching the man work as Highway Super and previously for the State Highway for years, I can say that the man wouldn’t go to relax. I feel the board made the wrong call.

  • We need new blood in Southold Town… from top to bottom. We need town leaders who embrace the future NOT shun it. That includes utilizing technologies like Twitter and Facebook… welcoming competition (ie Go Green)… amending an antiquated town code to, once and for all, create clear boundaries for wineries and businesses (while encouraging them to grow)… cutting fat… everyone says that government employees make too much? I disagree…. SOME employees make too much… look closely at the salary disparities… is the town’s senior planner really worth $100k + a year? Hey, why not CLOSE the dump altogether…? It IS possible… No one in power in Southold Town thinks outside the box… they think inside the box… a very very small box.

  • Oh and btw? How many times HAS Harris gone to Vegas on the town’s dime? Someone should have stopped that bs a long long long time ago….

  • “You need to be able to convince people that Twitter is not just junk,” said Ms. Evans.

    Hm… anyone ever heard of the revolution in Egypt?

  • I think Pete can afford to pay for his own trip since he makes a Salary of $160,000 per year. Proudly paid for by the Town of Southold hard working citizens.

  • I truly believe that all Southold Town Hall positions should be seriously scrutinized based upon job responsiblity and salary.

    This website will disclose Southold Town Hall Salaries: Prepare to be SHOCKED!

  • you are over by at least 64,000 dollars – check your facts before making statements like this

  • Incredible how you lie. Pete makes less than $100k per year… you idiot.

  • Your website is wrong. It shows pay increases between 2009 and 2010 – but there was a pay freeze – everyone made the same amount in 2010 as they did in 2009…. also, some of those figures are wrong… compare it to the Suffolk Times story recently published that shows town salaries.

  • Sorry Pete, I mispoke concerning your Annual Salary. You do not make $160,000, but just merely $95,000. I confused your Salary with James Bunchuck’s $110,000 Salary as the Solid Waste Supervisor.

    Unfortunately, you can still afford a $2500 Las Vegas Trip.

  • The website is correct. I downloaded the spreadsheet and I confronted a Town of Southold Employee. They verified that the Salaries were correct for 2010.

    The Revolution Has Begun!

  • You’d better check again…

  • You are correct……The Revolution has begun! The average resident household income i Southold is $48,000 – $50,000 per year and a COP make $100,000? Where is the logic?

  • Oh, yeah, right. Because if a website says its correct, it HAS to be correct.

    Welcome to the InterWebz.

  • The COP’s protect a lot of people around the USA, and for a much less annual salary. I guess our Police Blotter warrants $100,000 per year. When was the last murder in Southold? I guess DWI and Vehicle Inspection stops are just as dangerous?

  • OK, if you are wrong, then you send me the accurate list of salaries for the Town of Southold. How would you know anyway unless you are the $60,000 payroll clerk?

  • Here retard: http://southoldtown.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1208

    just proving your site is wrong… get your GED and maybe you wont be so jealous… you couldn’t handle a town job.

  • If they are Part-Time workers, thery sure make a nice Salary. The clerical postions are making between $40,000 to $60,000 per year.

    You pointed out a good observation: The Southold Town Website design really sucks!
    I don’t think it is reflection of Pride, but a reflection of Greed!