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Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Weich turns over dogs to SPCA

Thursday, January 09, 2014 - Updated: 3:11 AM

By CAROLINE MURRAY and HEATHER NELLIS

For the C-S-E

SPRAKERS -- On Tuesday, a news release issued by the New York State Police in connection with a high-profile animal neglect complaint in Sprakers, stated that the owner of the property where roughly 70 border collies had been kept outdoors in freezing conditions, Herbert Weich, was charged with a violation of the Agriculture and Markets Law section 353-B(2) for failure to provide adequate shelter. 

As a result, Weich "volunteered to relinquish some of the dogs to the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals while more substantial shelters were constructed," stated the news release.

Attorneys for the Lexus Project, a legal defense organization for dogs, filed an Article 78 lawsuit Monday with local animal rescuer Eric Bellows. It was filed against New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico, and the owner of Flat Creek Border Collies breeding facility.

In addition to the dogs' seizure, the lawsuit (an Article 78) sought criminal charges against Weich.

Weich, who owns and operates the facility at 569 Rappa Road, was initially cleared of any wrongdoing by state troopers who investigated his operation with a veterinarian Friday.

That was apparently based on a "preliminary" report from the veterinarian, Judge Joseph Sise said at Monday's hearing.

The preliminary report indicated "although not ideal, the dogs were not in imminent danger," Sise said.

State troopers announced Friday there were no violations of state laws or local codes at the facility. They reportedly consulted the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office in making their determination.

"The owner of the kennel has provided shelter, food and water as required," stated a news release. 

Tuesday's press release issued by the New York State Police stated, in referring to the Friday report by state troopers, "Primitive housing, food and water were observed on the property and no animals displayed signs of distress or appeared to be in immediate danger."

Though they hadn't visited the site in person, Attorney for the Lexus Project Richard Rosenthal and Matthew Albert, of Citizens Against Puppy Mills, disagreed, based on witness testimony and photographs.

The announcement by State Troopers Friday that there were no violations of state laws or local codes did not satisfy the masses. Rosenthal said he was contacted by at least 25 people concerned for the safety of the dogs, which were contained within an electrical fencing system, and provided cut out barrels for shelter from recent sub-zero wintry elements.

The forerunner of this public outcry, Eric Bellows, owns an animal rescue business in the town of Root.

According to Bellows, he visited the kennel last Tuesday disguised as an interested customer looking for a puppy. He said he was shocked by the conditions of the environment.

"When I was there, there were at least 70 to 80 dogs running around that property," said Bellows. "There was no bedding except for old, wet, nasty stuff that was in there. When I first got out of my car there were over 40 dogs within the first six or seven yards."

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

Having taken several behavioral modification dog-training courses, Bellows said he is familiar with the border collie breed mix. According to Bellows, the collie's fur coat is not made to withstand sub-zero weather without the proper shelter to keep warm.

"Their coat is not like a Siberian husky or sled dog, they don't have winter coats," he said.

NYS Assemblyman James Tedisco posted on Facebook that he was contacted by about Welch's puppy mill and that state and local law enforcement told him minimum standards of the law were being enforced.

Tedisco said he was working on an anti-puppy mill legislation that he co-sponsored and is waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign it.

He asked that everyone call the governor's office and push to motion the bill.

"If the state refuses to protect those who have no voice then our local governments should have the ability stop these puppy mills which keep our four-legged friends in such deplorable conditions," said Tedisco in the post.

According to Tuesday's press release, "The New York State Police are continuing to work with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Montgomery County SPCA as the case proceeds."

"Mr. Weich will answer the Agriculture and Markets Law charge in the Town of Root Justice Court on January 13th."

     

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