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SPCA

Melissa Buchanan mugshot from SCPD

A woman was charged with animal cruelty after police found a dog dead and several other animals that had not been cared for in her home.

Officers responded to an apartment on Beverly Road in South Huntington on Thursday night after a landlord reported hearing a dog excessively barking and “realizing she had not seen her tenant for a few days,” the Suffolk County Police Department said in a statement. The responders found two miniature Australian shepherd dogs, one of them dead, as well as two lizards and a cat — all of which had not been cared for, police said.

The tenant, 27-year-old Melissa Buchanan, returned while police were at the scene and “admitted to police she had not been home for several days.”

She was charged with six counts of animal cruelty for allegedly abandoning the animals.

Attorney information for Buchanan was not immediately available Friday morning.

Huntington Town’s animal control department took possession of the surviving dog and cat, while the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which worked with the police to bring charges against Buchanan, made arrangements for the lizards.

Supervisor Ed Romaine, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro and Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross pose with a 32-inch female American alligator turned in on Amnesty Day. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Long Islanders turned in three American alligators and eight turtles at a recent animal amnesty event in Brookhaven Town, and all of the reptiles are shipping up to a Massachusetts sanctuary.

Brookhaven’s Holtsville Ecology Center hosted the event on Oct. 10 to allow residents to turn in any protected, endangered or threatened animals that require special New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits without fear of penalties or questioning. It was the second annual event of its kind for the town, which operated with the help of those two agencies and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

People with dangerous or illegal animals were able to turn them over to professionals, no questions asked.

Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross called the recent amnesty event a success, saying the three alligators turned in “had the potential of ending up endangering the public.”

According to Brookhaven Town, the average length a fully grown female American alligator is a little more than 8 feet, and a fully grown male can be longer than 11 feet. Of the three alligators turned in, two were males, measuring 27 and 29 inches, and one was a 32-inch female.

“People should think twice before acquiring illegal reptiles or mammals,” Gross said in a statement from the town. “They do not make good pets and you are risking fines and possible jail time.”

At last year’s animal amnesty event, people turned in 25 animals, including a western diamondback rattlesnake, a green anaconda, four boa constrictors, an American alligator and two marmosets.

“These animals were turned in before the people harboring them as pets released them into the wild, creating a potentially dangerous situation in our local communities,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a statement about the alligators and turtles turned over this year. “These animals will now receive proper care without posing a threat.”

Owners of potentially dangerous animals have dumped them in public places in the past, creating a public safety issue. In late August, a 25-pound alligator snapping turtle was discovered in a stream of the Nissequogue River opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25. The reptile is not indigenous to Long Island — it is a freshwater animal with enough power to bite off a human toe or finger, and is usually found in places from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

“People need to understand that many exotic animals can be very dangerous if not handled properly or allowed to grow to their adult size,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “They are even more threatening if released into the wild, where they could harm people or other animals.”

Turn in dangerous or illegal animals at amnesty event

Brookhaven officials are urging residents to turn in endangered or dangerous animals on Oct. 10. Last year, people turned in alligators and marmosets. File photo

Residents can turn in any protected, endangered or threatened animals that require special New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits without fear of penalties or questioning on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Brookhaven Town’s second Amnesty Day at the Holtsville Ecology Center will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and people owning dangerous or illegals animals will be able to hand them over to trained professionals from the town, the DEC, the wildlife service and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The agencies will relocate animals turned in that cannot be kept at the ecology center.

“All too often people will harbor unlicensed or illegal pets without realizing the dangers they pose or the amount of care they require,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a press release. “This often leads to these animals being dumped by someone who once had it as a pet. An example of this is the 25-pound alligator snapping turtle that was recently found in the Nissequogue River in Smithtown.”

That turtle, a freshwater reptile that officials said had enough power to bite off a human finger or toe, was discovered in the stream opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25 in Smithtown in late August. It is not indigenous to Long Island — it is usually found in the region from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

At the Amnesty Day on Oct. 10, residents can “do the right thing for the safety of their neighbors and for the well-being of these animals,” Losquadro said.

Last year’s town event saw 25 animals turned in at the ecology center, including a western diamondback rattlesnake, a green anaconda, four boa constrictors, an American alligator and two marmosets. It was the most successful amnesty event the SPCA has ever had.

“The purpose of this effort is to get these illegally possessed animals into a controlled environment where they can be cared for properly,” SPCA Chief Roy Gross said. “People who are in possession of these animals unlawfully can turn them in to us without fear of prosecution. No one will be asked to give their name.”

The ecology center is located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville.

For more information, call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722, NYSDEC at 631-444-0250 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 516-825-3950.

The dangerous reptile sits on a table at Thursday's press conference. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.

A 25-pound alligator snapping turtle was found this past weekend in the stream opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25 in Smithtown, with enough power to bite off someone’s finger or toe, officials said.

“We’re just lucky the gentleman who found it knew how to handle it, and knew to contact us,” said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “This reptile is capable of taking toes and part of a foot clean off. People are constantly walking by this area barefoot, including children.”

A father and son, both Suffolk County residents, found the reptile while they were preparing to go kayaking, officials said. Gross said that this freshwater reptile is not indigenous to this area, and is mainly found from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

SPCA Chief Roy Gross handles the alligator snapping turtle on Thursday, Aug. 27. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
SPCA Chief Roy Gross handles the alligator snapping turtle on Thursday, Aug. 27. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Gross and Dan Losquadro, highway superintendent for Brookhaven Town, both said that this is another example of people dumping reptiles in public places, creating a serious threat and risk to the public.

“This is a dangerous animal. We don’t want animals abandoned. But we don’t want to endanger the public,” Losquadro said.

According to Losquadro, the turtle will be transported to the Holtsville Ecology Center, where it will be given shelter and a veterinarian will make sure it is physically healthy, and identify what gender it is.

The ecology center is a refuge for all abandoned animals. Gross said that over the years there have been many incidents of animals being released to the public, and that someone guilty of this can be faced with multiple charges and prosecuted.

Gross suspected this was originally someone’s pet, but stressed that this is not the kind of pet you want to have.

“I can’t imagine curled up on the couch watching television with this guy,” Gross said.

When transporting the turtle to the SPCA’s office, he said the turtle was able to make a hole in the container he was being kept in, and was trying to escape.

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Three horses reportedly found ‘emaciated and sick’

One of the horses is so sick, its ribs are visible through the skin. Photo from Suffolk SPCA

The Suffolk County SPCA has charged a Hauppauge woman with animal cruelty after her horses were found to be emaciated and sick.

Helen Malazzo. Photo from Suffolk SPCA
Helen Malazzo. Photo from Suffolk SPCA

SPCA Chief Roy Gross said that Helen Malazzo, 61, of Hauppauge, kept three horses at a boarding facility at 193 South St., Manorville, that had no running water on the property. After being examined by a veterinarian, one of the horses was found to be so sick and emaciated that he wasn’t sure it would survive without immediate veterinary care, Gross said. The other two horses were also allegedly neglected. 

Gross also said that the SPCA seized all three horses and they are now in foster care receiving the proper attention. Malazzo returns to First District Court in Central Islip on Oct. 5.

Gross asked the public to help cover the veterinary care for the three horses by making donations to the Suffolk County SPCA. All donations are tax deductible to the extend permitted by law.