UTICA - The video making the rounds on social media shows dozens of dogs, in cages, barking nonstop while someone in the background sweeps what appears to be animal feces. Angry animal lovers are sharing the video.
The Road to Home Rescue has been on the Oneida County District Attorney's Office radar.
"The game plan was to actually execute the search warrant if we could obtain a search warrant this week, tomorrow or the next day," said District Attorney Scott McNamara on Tuesday. "We were dealing with New York State Humane Society, we were trying to figure out what would we do with these dogs? Ultimately, they hooked us up with the Humane Society of the United States."
But the D.A.'s Office started getting information that would likely not support a seizure, raid or search warrant.
"We were getting information from the SPCA that they did an inspection and the conditions were not deplorable, so we were getting conflicting information," said McNamara.
So he sent his own investigators to the animal rescue facility on Thursday of last week, and operator Kim Strong let them in.
"Thursday of last week, we went in. She let us in. We were able to get in, looked at the facility. It was not deplorable," said the D.A.
McNamara says while 'not deplorable' doesn't necessarily equal 'ideal', it also doesn't necessarily equal illegal.
"Housing 115-118 dogs in cages to me is a problem. But the issue is, there's no law that prohibits that," said McNamara, adding that he would encourage people who feel there's a void to contact their lawmakers at every level of government and demand tougher laws, more specific to companion animals.
"Is it animal cruelty, them living in crates? I have Great Dane crates for most of the dogs and some kennels. With them going out like they do and spending as much time outside as they spend, no, I don't believe it's animal cruelty. Plus, we have the walkers that come, the volunteers that come to walk the dogs," said Strong.
"People have said that they're starving. None of my dogs are starving, they're all fat, if anything."
Strong agreed that 118 (currently 109) dogs are too many and difficult to adequately care for, with staffing cost being extremely high. McNamara says Strong has been cooperative and his office is keeping an eye on the situation, and is in communication with Strong about reducing that number.
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