Animal hospice founder faces cruelty charges

Above: Video footage shot in 2009 by undercover PETA investigator at the Angel's Gate animal hospice in Delhi.

Susan Marino, a 60-year-old Delhi resident and the founder of the Angel's Gate animal hospice, has been arrested on five counts of cruelty to animals and one count of possession of a controlled substance.

A press release from the Delaware County District Attorney's office says that Marino was arrested on Friday, arraigned in Kortright town court, and released on her own recognizance.

Marino's arrest is the result of a covert investigation by an animal-rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

After Marino's arrest last week, PETA immediately issued a blog post declaring "victory," and urging its members to write to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in an effort to revoke Angel's Gate's nonprofit status and have the animals removed from the hospice.

In late 2010, PETA sent an undercover investigator to volunteer at Angel's Gate, taking covert notes and video footage on the conditions there. In April of last year, PETA published a video with the footage from Angel's Gate, and called on local and state law enforcement to investigate the facility.

The Times-Union reported on the investigation last year:

In the 26-page complaint, PETA said its undercover agent, who was at Angel's Gate from 21 days at the end of November and beginning of December, witnessed the following:

Paraplegic dogs dragging themselves on the ground until they developed bruises when canine-fitted wheelchairs were readily available; pets covered for days in urine and feces; animals failing to receive prescribed medication and others given prescription medicine without a veterinarian's consent; animals left with only rancid meat to eat; pets with easily treatable medical conditions left uncared for; and carcasses left among living animals for days.

Before the PETA investigation, Marino was something of a celebrity in the animal-rescue world, appearing on Oprah and earning glowing press coverage and awards for her animal hospice work. But fame quickly became notoriety when PETA released the video last year, and the plight of the Angel's Gate animals made national news headlines.

The Daily Star spoke to Marino after her arrest:

The accusations are false, Marino said when reached at Angel's Gate on Friday.

"I'm really sad it came to this. We do good work," she said, adding that her facility was open to inspection.