By By LINDA KELLETT/For the Recorder
MINDEN — Over 50 dogs and puppies are being seized as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations raised against a local dog breeder.
That’s according to New York State Police Public Information Officer Mark Cepiel Thursday morning, who said troopers executed a search warrant at 7145 state Route 5S Wednesday night in relation to numerous complaints received by State Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Plain Police Department about alleged conditions at that location.
He said law enforcement personnel from the three agencies began the ongoing process of removing the mostly pit bull population from that location and declined at this time to comment on pending charges.
He said, “Charges are possible today, but when we conduct an investigation such as this and have to seize animals, it takes time.”
Local shelters and pet rescue associations are assisting with housing, Cepiel said, noting that it’s too early to tell if any of the canines need to be euthanized.
He said the current cold weather was a factor in taking the animals from the canines’ owner, who has been identified in e-mails from animal rights advocates as Joseph Marriott.
The animals reportedly were being sheltered in an empty cow barn.
Marriott on Thursday morning said, “I’ve had my kennel since I was a kid. I was raised with these when I was growing up.”
He continued, “I’m not very happy. They’re holding them on me.”
Marriott claimed that only two days before the execution of the search warrant, the Sheriff’s Office and dog warden “said I was OK.”
While Minden Dog Control Officer and Rabies Response Agent James Brownell declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeff Smith said deputies and the dog control officer had been at that location prior to Wednesday night’s dog seizure.
Smith said, “We had been there and said his licensing and rabies vaccinations were OK, but we were still investigating” the sheltering conditions. Contrary to allegations, he said the animals had food and water.
Under New York State Agriculture and Markets regulations, Smith said a breeder must provide each animal with individual housing with hay bedding.
Specifically, the Ag and Markets regulations stipulate that animals under the care of pet breeders should be housed in structurally-sound, sufficiently-spaced “primary enclosures or cages,” maintained in good repair to contain and protect the animal from injury.
Further, it stipulates that surfaces “shall have an impervious surface so as not to permit the absorption of fluids and which can be thoroughly and repeatedly cleaned and disinfected without retaining odors.”
Additionally, the housing facilities must be “adequately ventilated at all times to provide for the health and well-being of the animal. Ventilation shall be provided by natural or mechanical means”; and the “temperature shall be regulated by heating and cooling to sufficiently protect each animal from extremes of temperature and shall not be permitted to fall below or rise above ranges which would pose a health hazard to the animal.”
Smith said the three law enforcement agencies have been working together, with State Police assuming lead agency status in moving forward with charges.
“The main objective is to get the dogs in safe, secure housing,” he said.
Additional information about pending charges will be forthcoming.