A disturbing video of Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter employees laughing, making obscene gestures and mocking the execution of a kitten as they ready the tiny animal for death has been making the rounds on YouTube Monday and inciting outrage among animal groups, residents and town officials.
The footage (posted below), shot inside the embattled taxpayer-funded facility in Wantagh and titled “Kill The Kitty,” documents Acting Shelter Director Pat Horan cheering and smiling, sporting a mullet and flipping her middle finger at the camera as two shelter workers cart in a small, defenseless, black-and-white baby cat.
Dogs bark off-camera as REM’s “Orange Crush” blasts in the background.
“Debbie do you want to kill a kitten?” asks an overweight worker, opening a blue cage containing the small feline and feigning a hangman’s noose around his neck.
“You wanna kill another kit?” chimes another, readying a noose attached to the tip of a pole. He then lassos the kitten and tightens the choke around its neck, lifting the creature into the air and pinning it on the ground as it struggles to break free.
“Pass the needle please,” says an off-camera female voice.
The helpless tuxedo kitten twists and flails as another off-camera woman’s voice shouts “Kill the kitty! Kill the kitty!”
“What you are about to witness is footage taken at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter,” reads another version of the video circulating the Internet Monday.
“At the time Pat Horan was Kennel Supervisor,” it continues. “Ms. Horan has since been promoted to the position of Shelter Director.”
The original post, uploaded Sunday by a user under the alias Thedontkillthekitty, had more than 2,500 views and dozens of inflammatory comments as of midday Monday. The video has also been circulating widely on Facebook and reposted on various animal advocacy sites across the Internet.
“Just give me ONE minute with that facility manager,” writes a furious wendycase1 below the posting. “A question. Why do people still call these places shelters??????? Just curious. They ARE what they ARE.. killing facilities!!!!”
“This is just sick!!” scribbles secrets18.
Attempts to reach Horan were unsuccessful.
Town of Hempstead Communications Director Michael Deery tells the Press the video is at least 17 years old and the town has taken swift action in response to its “deeply disturb[ing]” content.
“[Hempstead Town] Supervisor [Kate Murray] has been advised and was shocked and appalled by the content on the video,” he says. “In response to the video, the Acting Shelter Director Pat Horan is being reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation.
“The employee handling the cat on the pole was not a town employee,” continues Deery. “It’s the former employee of a local animal hospital. The other person on camera handling the cage was a town employee but hasn’t been with the town in somewhere between 14 and 16 years.
“Ms. Horan emphatically denied that it was her voice when you hear that off-camera statement,” he adds, referring to the woman shouting “Kill the kitty! Kill the kitty!” “She emphatically denies that that was her.”
The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter has come under fire recently for allegations of animal abuse and its highly paid staff. In November, town officials announced a series of policy changes at the facility following an October shakeup that included the transfer of several key employees and the barring of several local volunteer animal rescuers.
Three of those rescuers filed a lawsuit against the town, Supervisor Murray, Horan and others in December, alleging they were banned in retaliation for speaking out about abuse at the shelter.