Meriden Humane Society opens its doors for transparency after director charged with forgery

MERIDEN – The Meriden Humane Society opened its doors to the public just a few days after the director Marlena DiBianco was arrested, accused of forgery.

An open house was held Saturday at the shelter.  Organizers say it was put in place to be transparent, answer any questions the public may have, and show they are there for one thing: the animals.

The Meriden Humane Society has been open for 123 years as a home for some animals or a temporary place until they find one.

“Last year we adopted out about 500 animals,” Volunteer Alexia Belperron said. “At any given time we have somewhere between 100-120 animals in the shelter including small dogs, big dogs, cats and kittens."

A rough week for the animal shelter after DiBianco was arrested Wednesday.

Police said that in April of 2015 there were a number of broad-based allegations of misconduct brought to their attention that led them to investigate her.

The warrant stemmed from the forging of a rabies certificate in which a non-vaccinated animal was adopted out to a member of the public, leading the person who adopted the animal to believe that it had been vaccinated, according to police.

“Obviously we were shocked, surprised, the timing is quite suspect, the way that it was handled is surprising,” Belperron said. “I don’t want to say that forgery is not a serious issue but an arrest warrant that is issued within an hour of it coming out when there are I think many other arrests warrants open in the city that haven’t been issued, I don’t know why this is such a focus for the city.”

This comes in the midst of negotiations with the city over a new lease. The building located at 311 Murdoch Ave. is shared with the city’s Animal Control.

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Meriden Mayer Kevin Scarpati said another non-profit, Saving Paws, has proposed taking over part of the building for use of their services including an on-site veterinarian.

Humane Society volunteers said they don’t have space to spare.

“That space that they’re looking to lease out to Saving Paws houses our small dogs, our isolation room and our storage,” Volunteer Alysia Robinson said. “We wouldn’t be able to care for small dogs, we wouldn’t be able to take in new cats, because they require two-week isolation period so we know they’re not gonna get the rest of the population sick.”

“It would be devastating for the residents, it would be devastating for the animals, and it is long term probably gonna cost the city more money if they’re gonna have to take in the animals that we can no longer take,” Belperron said.

According to Mayor Scarpati, the Humane Society’s lease was up April 2015 and did not include the rooms of concern.

He said it’s up to council and the city’s legal team which proposal is best fit for the city. They are currently looking at the Meriden Humane Society’s proposal.

Volunteers said these recent issues are taking time away from why they are there in the first place, the animals.

“We’ve been doing it for 120 years and I hope that we’re still doing it 120 years from now,” Belperron said. “I hope that we can solve our differences for the residents and for the animals.”

DiBianco was charged with second-degree forgery and released on a Written Promise to Appear in court on Tuesday, September 20.

The Humane Society has released a statement which can be found here.