DELHI, N.Y. —
Susan Marino started Angel’s Gate animal hospice more than a decade ago to care for animals with special needs: Dogs paralyzed after being hit by cars; cats with severe deformities; a Labrador retriever born without lower limbs, now fitted with orthotics.
A registered nurse who for more than 35 years specialized in emergency and critical care, mental health, and the care of critically and terminally ill children and their families, Marino went back to school and became a veterinary technician, got a certification in canine rehabilitation and a license to rehabilitate wildlife and had her efforts noticed by Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray.
Winfrey did a segment on Angel’s Gate; Marino’s center won $50,000 from the Food Network star. There was an appearance on Martha Stewart, an ASPCA Founders award and a Woman of Distinction honor from the state of New York.
Not all the attention was welcomed. The hospice came under fire from animal rights activists whose undercover investigation led to five cruelty charges against Marino.
Acting on a tip from a job applicant, an animal rights group sent in an undercover agent posing as a volunteer to scout the 100-acre ranch in rural upstate New York that 75 dogs, 230 cats, three horses and nine birds currently call home. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the investigation found paralyzed dogs dragging themselves around until they developed bloody skin ulcers while their wheeled carts hung on a fence unused; animals kept in diapers for several days, causing urine scald; animals with open wounds and respiratory infections that weren’t taken to a veterinarian.
They turned over the video to a local prosecutor who charged Marino on Dec. 30 with failing to provide sustenance to five cats, a violation of the state’s agriculture and markets law. The district attorney also charged her with possession of a controlled substance. They’re all misdemeanors that carry up to a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
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