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Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Border collie breeder Herbert Weich is shown Monday getting into his vehicle at the town of Root court after he voluntarily agreed to forfeit his remaining 13 dogs.

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Dog breeder surrenders 13 animals

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - Updated: 10:03 AM

CAROLINE MURRAY

caroline.murray@recordernews.com

ROOT -- Prior to a town of Root court hearing Monday, Sprakers border collie breeder Herbert Weich agreed to surrender the remaining 13 dogs that were seized from his property in January.

But Weich has not seen his final day in court.

The forfeiture is the result of a petition for a security posting Montgomery County SPCA attorney Bethany Schumann-McGhee filed against Weich this month following his alleged violation of Agriculture & Markets law.

The petition was running parallel to a criminal court hearing, which Root Justice Thomas W. Eriksen adjourned until June 9 -- hours before Weich agreed to surrender the dogs to the SPCA.

"The law is made to steal them," Weich said before driving away in his pickup truck. "It don't matter if you're right."

The petition called for Weich to either provide monetary relief to the SPCA for the cost of the dogs' medical bills or forfeit the 13 animals to the organization, Schumann-McGhee said.

Weich chose the latter.

"He forfeited the dogs so we don't have to have a hearing tonight," Schumann-McGhee said.

She was scheduled to testify along with the New York State Police and a veterinarian who has examined the dogs, if Weich did not accept the plea deal following his criminal hearing.

However, Weich and his attorney, Montgomery County Public Defender William Martuscello, asked to have the criminal hearing postponed on the grounds they are still working on the disposition.

After Eriksen agreed to the adjournment, Schumann-McGhee asked Martuscello if he would represent Weich in the civil proceeding scheduled for 7 p.m.

Martuscello declined and refused to comment on his decision.

After Martuscello left the court, Schumann-McGhee said she and Weich came to an agreement that he would surrender the animals to the SPCA instead of cover the cost of the animals' care.

"Now that they are the MC-SPCA's, we can adopt them," Schumann-McGhee said. "I am very happy."

Weich was charged Jan. 28 with failure to provide proper sustenance under state Agriculture & Markets law.

The law says any person who harms, tortures or kills any wild or domesticated animal, deprives any animal of necessary food or drink, neglects or refuses it sustenance or any other act producing such cruelty, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

The case stems from a lawsuit against Weich and the State Police by a local animal rescuer and the Lexus Project, a legal organization for dogs, after troopers first reported conditions at his breeding facility were adequate.

Following a Supreme Court hearing Jan. 7, 35 border collies were taken from Weich's Flat Creek Border Collies facility after he was charged with failing to provide them with adequate shelter in sub-zero weather.

The 13 additional dogs were removed from his property by volunteers and authorities Jan. 22.

Schumann-McGhee said 11 dogs were taken to a border collie rescue farm and two remain at the SPCA.

A series of health issues surfaced after their relinquishment.

More specifically, several of the dogs were emaciated, had yeast infections of the ear, ear mites, infected teeth, urinary tract infections, tick-borne diseases; some were missing parts of their noses and ears.

Schumann-McGhee said the SPCA has spent close to $40,000 trying to rehabilitate the dogs and one died during surgery at the rescue farm.

"It was an older dog," she said.

The Lexus Project's original lawsuit was dismissed March 20.

All parties mutually agreed on the dismissal; Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Joseph M. Sise said the matter was moot after the border collies were removed from his property and Weich was charged with the misdemeanor.

Schumann-McGhee said Weich is still in possession of a few dogs, but they are not currently the subject of any proceeding.

The SPCA will now focus on the nearly 50 dogs in their possession.

Schumann-McGhee said they are in the process of applying for grants to help subsidize some of the medical costs.

     

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