Complaints against Middle Island animal rescue triggers probe

Some pet owners are accusing a Middle Island animal rescue of shady tactics after pets they adopted became sick and died soon after.

The Malone family, of Medford, paid nearly $500 to adopt Jax - a terrier mix from Friends of Freddie Pet Rescue in Middle Island. Christyn Malone said the vet technician who worked for the rescue gave Jax a clean bill of health.

"The next day, my husband took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and the vet said this dog probably had kennel cough weeks ago," she told News 12 Long Island.

Jax died a few weeks later of distemper.

Kristen Addiss, of Port Jefferson, had a similar instance. She says she believes Friends of Freddie falsified documents to make it seem like her dog Layla was healthy. Layla also died of distemper a few weeks after her adoption.

The Suffolk SPCA says it's received similar complaints, and the New York Attorney General's Office told News 12 it's investigating Friends of Freddie.

Barbara Sanelli, the owner of Friends of Freddie, insisted that both Jax and Layla were healthy when they were adopted.

"Tell me how my husband went to the doctor for checkup and the next day, he was dead. How does that happen? You know how that happens? It's life, and it's sad," she told News 12.

Sanelli denied that her vet tech was falsifying documents.

News 12 spoke to other volunteers at the pet rescue who say they volunteer there because they love the work Sanelli does.

Under current New York state law, pet rescues are not licensed the same way pet stores are, so they don't have to meet the same requirements. That will change on May 22 in Suffolk when all pet rescues will be licensed under the Department of Consumer Affairs.

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