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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Caroline Murray
Deborah Zalondek of Gloversville with her dog, which she rescued from a puppy mill, was outdoors with her protestsign in Fonda Tuesday during proceedings in Montgomery County Supreme Court.

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Charges filed, animals transferred following court action in dog case

Thursday, January 09, 2014 - Updated: 10:06 AM

By CAROLINE MURRAY

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- The owner of a Sprakers dog kennel was charged Tuesday with failing to provide adequate shelter for roughly 70 border collies left outside in subzero temperatures.

Before a hearing at state Supreme Court at Montgomery County, kennel owner Herbert Weich agreed to temporarily transfer some dogs to the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals until proper shelters are constructed at his home at 569 Rappa Road.

Local animal rescuer Eric Bellows -- who sued Weich and the state police who said the dogs weren't in danger -- said 40 of 66 dogs would be evacuated Tuesday night, and eventually placed in a shelter for rescued border collies.

"It's an OK win for everybody," said Bellows. "The main thing here is what came out of it, what has come together for the animals, tonight they are finally getting that comfort and out of that weather."

Tuesday's hearing was scheduled as a result of the lawsuit filed Monday against New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico, and Weich, the owner of Flat Creek Border Collies breeding facility. It was filed by attorneys from the Lexus Project, a legal defense organization for dogs, and Bellows.

Bellows and the attorneys disagreed with troopers' announcement Friday that the kennel's conditions did not violate state laws or local codes.

Reports of conditions at the facility prompted public outcry and allegations of animal neglect. Hundreds of complaints started rolling in to authorities Wednesday after Bellows posted pictures of the dogs and conditions on social media that went viral.

Assistant Attorney General Shoshanah Bewlay is representing state police in the case. During Tuesday's hearing, she announced to Judge Joseph Sise the agreement between the SPCA, Lexus Project, and Weich to temporarily remove certain adult dogs from the property.

Bewlay said Weich's puppies and certain adult dogs will remain. The puppies will be taken inside Weich's home if subzero temperatures are reached, and the older dogs will remain on the property in shelters deemed suitable for the chilly conditions.

Bewlay said the dogs will be photographed so they are identifiable and returnable if Weich meets the conditions. She also said Weich is considering permanent surrender of the adult male dogs.

The agreement gave Weich two weeks to complete renovations on his facility that coincide with Agriculture & Market laws. If deemed incomplete by investigations conducted by state police, Agriculture & Market, or the SPCA, another resolution will be reached according to his progress.

"Obviously if Ag & Markets or police find further violations, they will take whatever action they feel appropriate," said Richard Rosenthal, an attorney for the Lexus Project.

Helping to build sufficient accommodations for the dogs is Weich's neighbor, Brian Clukey.

Clukey said that he was not only looking out for the interests of his neighbor, but the privacy of his neighborhood. He was displeased with the attention Weich's kennel has brought to their street and volunteered to help bring his facility up to code.

According to Clukey, he already built three shelters since Sunday, which cost around $170 a piece.

"I'm working as hard as I can," said Clukey.

During the procedure, Weich asked Sise if he could extend the deadline to complete the border collies homes until the end of the month, but Judge Sise denied his request.

"Do the best you can, take care of the dogs the best that you can, and keep in mind what was discussed," said Judge Sise.

Bewlay said four adult dogs will remain in Weich's kennel in the newly constructed shelters. They will have further investigation of the shelter and the dogs this week to assure they are in compliance with the law.

Rosenthal was pleased with the decision, and said it was a matter of miscommunication between the police and the petitioners.

He hoped if a similar situation were to arise that there would be no need to resolve the matter in court again.

"We are thrilled, the dogs will be protected tonight," Rosenthal.

Although Bellows wished more came out of the courtroom, hundreds and thousands of likes, shares and comments commending him for his efforts quickly surfaced on his Facebook page.

"It's a start," said Bellows. "You know it's not what I would have liked to see, there are too many unanswered questions."

     

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