Meriden Humane Society receives extension from city, conditions continue to improve

Meriden Humane Society receives extension from city, conditions continue to improve


MERIDEN — City officials say conditions continue to improve at the Meriden Humane Society, which has been given a three-month extension to remain in its city-owned Murdock Avenue facility.

“The relationship has done a 180,” City Manager Guy Scaife said. “It’s just an absolute turn around.”

As a result, the humane society has until May to find a new location.

The City Council was briefed in a closed-door session Tuesday night. The no-kill shelter was notified in October that it had four months to vacate the building they share with Meriden Animal Control, with Scaife citing the group’s contentious relationship with the city, overcrowding of animals and unsanitary conditions. A subsequent investigation by the Record-Journal revealed over a decade’s worth of problems between the city and the society, many involving the group’s former director, Marlena DiBianco, who faces a forgery charge over a rabies certificate. DiBianco has pleaded not guilty to the charge and was ousted by the humane society’s board of directors late last year.

A new director hasn’t been selected, according to Meriden Humane Society Board Vice President Alysia Robinson. The group met with Scaife on Dec. 6, when they were given a three-month extension to leave the building. Their new expected departure date is May 31.

“If you physically walk in the place it is a drastic change in just the physical condition,” Scaife said. “They greatly reduced the animal population, the odor.”

Cats no longer roam freely in the hallways, restricted to certain rooms. The number of cats has been reduced from over 100 to 68, with 49 cats and seven dogs adopted in recent months.

Robinson said the group has instituted a plethora of new protocols and are actively educating volunteers on how to recognize sickness in animals and maintain hygiene within the facility. They have also paid about $6,000 of their $48,000 in outstanding veterinary bills.

“Things are moving in a really positive direction,” Robinson said.

While declining to comment on the possibility of the humane society remaining in the building, Scaife did say Saving Paws Inc. may no longer be interested in the space. Lease negotiation with the non-profit for space the humane society currently occupies began last year, but were put on hold late last year.

“(Saving Paws) have indicated they have been rethinking and are not looking at moving into that space,” Scaife said.

Saving Paws Vice President Bryan Kline, the city’s animal control officer, said their intentions for the space are “yet to be determined.”

“We’re going to be having a meeting in the upcoming weeks to determine what the next move is,” Kline said. “It’s still in negotiation.”

Republican Councilor Dan Brunet, longtime supporter of the humane society, was hopeful the improvements could lead to the shelter remaining in the building.

“A great amount of progress has taken place and it’s being recognized with a further extension,” Brunet said. “I’ve never wavered in my belief that all the issues would be worked out in time. Some of my colleague are skeptical, but things seem to be going really well.”

Democratic Councilor Miguel Castro, who criticized aspects of the non-profit’s finances last year, said more planning is needed to ensure the group’s future in the city.

“I am happy that the Meriden Humane Society have turned a number of things around that are extremely beneficial,” Castro said. “Nevertheless, I have yet to see any strategic planning as we move forward to determine whether they are going to remain or not.

“We still have to look at the city as a whole and what is beneficial to the city,” he added. 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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