"Lainey's Day" Memorial draws a crowd, supporters rally to strengthen animal abuse laws
ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - More than 75 people gathered in Rome Monday night for Lainey's Day. It was a day set aside to remember the 4 -year-old Australian Shepherd on the two week anniversary of her death, and it was also a day to fight to change the laws.
Lainey was found around 9:30 pm on Friday, May 17th inside a crate at the end of a driveway on Babcock Road in Camden. A concerned citizen called the Oneida County Sheriff's Department and Deputy Lee Broniszewski located Lainey in horrific conditions. "It's hard to even explain how far gone the dog was," said Deputy Broniszewski. "There's no words to even explain. She was 15 pounds. She should have been 40- 45 pounds. As a human being, it's not something that you could overlook. There are no words. If you didn't see her in those last days, there are just not words."
After finding Lainey, Deputy Broniszewski contacted John Boncella Jr, the Dog Control Officer for Camden, Florence and Osceola. Boncella helped rescue Lainey from the crate. "When i went and picked her up she was crying and whining and was just a sack of bones literally a sack of bones," said Boncella.
Boncella brought Lainey back to his home where he laid her out on a blanket and gave her some food and water. "Deputy Broniszewski brought some food and handed it to me," said Boncella. "So I used that and mixed it heavy with water and I opened her mouth, put my finger in her mouth and she was happy to taste it. From there she gulped it down. A can and a half." And at 5 am the next morning, he tended to her again. "She had her head up and she seemed like she was happy to see me. She gulped the other can and a half down."
At 11 am on Saturday morning, May 17th, Boncella contacted the Humane Society of Rome. The workers and volunteers there took over Lainey's care until she passed away at 8:42 am the morning of May 20th.
Lainey's death sparked outrage in the community. Many wondered how something like this could happen. Since then some have taken action. Kim Strong, owner of Strong Resolutions, an animal behavioral specialist, started a facebook page called "Justice for Lainey." More than 3,000 people are now members of the page.
Strong, seeing the power in numbers, decided to organize "Lainey's Day." She urged members of the facebook page to contact their lawmakers on Monday, June 3rd, asking them to bring the Bill 775 A to the floor for a vote. Strong explains the bill. "The laws for animals are in the agriculture department, even dogs and cats. They are still in the agriculture department. This bill moves those laws from the ag laws to the penal laws."
"They (the laws) are a bit archaic and they definitely need to be streamlined and made easier to prosecute," said Broniszewski.
"Dog wardens don't do paperwork against these people because they do all this work and they bring it to the judge and the judge only has the option of slapping them on the wrist," said Strong. "The judges are on our side, the law enforcement is on our side, the DA's are on our side- the only people that aren't on our side right now is the assembly- we're going to get them there."
Supporters realize it is too late in this legislative session for the bill to be brought to a vote this session, but they are hoping it keeps the attention of lawmakers for the next session. "We raised a huge amount of awareness..to get any one group of people to get everyone to fight for the same bill..isn't something that happens in the animal world," said Strong. "This is a people issue, not a dog issue. So as long as they keep the laws the same, I'm going to keep coming."
Lynn Rosen, the President of the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of Rome, delivered a eulogy on Monday night in front of the shelter and honored those who took care of Lainey with plaques. During her speech, the crowd lit candles in Lainey's honor. Candles were not only lit at the shelter in Rome, hundreds of others were lit inside the homes of people who could not make it to the vigil. Many of Lainey's supporters were posting pictures of candles to the "Justice for Lainey" facebook page.
Lainey's owner, Ian West, is charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty and has yet to answer to those charges in court.