Angel’s Gate – Animal Suffering and Consumer Deception

Investigation Update and Victory: Susan Marino, the founder and operator of Angel’s Gate, Inc., was prohibited from owning animals after being charged with 22 counts of cruelty to animals as well as criminal possession of a controlled substance. Angel’s Gate was closed, and Marino was prohibited from being an officer or a director of a charity for 10 years. Read more here.

Angel’s Gate is a self-proclaimed animal “hospice and rehabilitation center” in Delhi, New York, that receives “special needs animals” from all across the U.S. Marino promises donors and people who send her animals that animals will “live out their days in peace, dignity and love.” PETA’s undercover investigation found the opposite.

We found that Angel’s Gate was a chaotic hellhole, where animals whose conditions required special, individualized, round-the-clock care were deprived of basic necessities and quality of life. PETA’s investigator discovered the following:

  • Paralyzed animals dragged themselves until they developed bleeding ulcers, even though wheelchair carts were readily available. One dachshund suffered a wound so deep that it exposed the bone.
  • Animals whose bladders should be expressed every few hours were kept in the same diaper for up to two days until the diapers were urine-logged, and animals suffered from urine scald.
  • Animals, even severely dehydrated ones, were confined without access to water.
  • Animals were kept outside in freezing temperatures without access to proper shelter.
  • Animals were confined to a bathtub, which they could not climb.
  • Animals were confined to bathrooms.
  • Small dogs were confined to Marino’s bed, several feet off the ground, with no way to leave it.
  • Animals were suffering from treatable conditions without veterinary examination or care, including open wounds and respiratory, eye, ear, mouth, and skin infections. One dog’s infected, rotten jaw snapped in half.
  • Animals wounded in fights that broke out daily because of stressful, crowded conditions were left untreated.
  • Animals suffering from pain, seizures, and hydrocephalus (water on the brain) were denied veterinarian-recommended and/or prescribed medication.
  • Horribly suffering animals on death’s door were deprived of the dignity and relief of euthanasia.
  • The bodies of dead animals were left out for days among live animals.
  • Animals were fed rancid, raw meat that had been left unrefrigerated.

View photos from PETA’s investigation, and read excerpts from our investigator’s notes.

Despite claiming to provide “hospice care” and “rehabilitation” to hundreds of animals, Angel’s Gate does not have a veterinarian on staff. PETA’s investigation found that most animals were denied veterinary care for a variety of ailments—from simple to terminal—and that some animals who were examined by a vet were still left to suffer without treatment. One such animal—an elderly Chihuahua named Malcolm who was sent to Angel’s Gate by Animal Care and Control in Brooklyn—was examined but received no treatment and languished for about two weeks before he finally died.

In addition to controlled substances and other drugs haphazardly piled in various bins, PETA’s investigator found medication that had been prescribed for Shifty, a bulldog suffering from seizures, and Tucker, a dog with hydrocephalus, untouched almost a week after a veterinarian dispensed them. A bottle of medicine sent to Angel’s Gate from Kentucky with a paralyzed pug named Franklin was found a full four months after Franklin’s arrival at the facility.

PETA’s investigator repeatedly brought to Marino’s attention the respiratory distress of a miniature horse named Mimi, who was denied veterinary care for days before she finally died. More than four months after Mimi’s death, Marino still solicited sponsorship donations for Mimi’s care on the website of Angel’s Gate. Marino has a spotty history with federal and state regulatory agencies: In 2004, the IRS listed Angel’s Gate as an organization that failed to establish its status as a public charity, and in 2010, Angel’s Gate was listed on the IRS’ list of exempt organizations in New York at risk of having its charity status revoked. Marino did not file her 2006 annual filing for charitable organizations with New York’s Office of the Attorney General until September of 2010, at which time she did not enclose the required $50 fee.

Unfortunately, Marino has been featured positively on national TV, prompting not just support and donations (one lottery winner apparently sent $50,000!) but also the false impression that Angel’s Gate is a good place for animals. Well-meaning people have for years naively sent ailing and debilitated animals to Marino.

No animal should be kept in the cruel conditions that PETA’s investigator witnessed at Angel’s Gate, but for animals with special needs, quality of life and individualized care is especially critical. Elderly animals who are nearing the end of their lives suffer severe emotional—not just physical—distress when, for reasons they have no way of understanding, they are abandoned by the family they have always known and loved. Senior animals must be able to rely on their guardians to be brave and see them through difficult times, even when that means saying goodbye.

PETA has turned over evidence to the Internal Revenue Service. 

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