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August 27, 2015 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, pets, animals.

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This kitten was found by staff on school grounds at Alexander Elementary School. It appears to have had recent surgery because of the purple dye on its fur. If it's your cat, contact the school.

UPDATE 2:42 p.m.: The owner has been located.

August 24, 2015 - 8:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, animals, alexander.

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A resident of Alexander Road, Alexander, found this apparently lost cat. The cat has a flea collar, so the cat definitely has a home and an owner. Contact 585-813-4560.

August 20, 2015 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, Deer, DEC.

Deer are causing damage in Batavia and residents say the problem is as bad as they can ever remember it, but that doesn't mean a solution will be easy to find.

DEC Biologist Art Kirsch led a two-hour meeting on the issue Wednesday night, but offered no clear answers and said it could take years for Batavia to thin its deer herd to a less destructive level.

City Manager Jason Molino agreed.

"We've got the right folks at the state level to help us," Molino said. "We've just got to get the right folks in the community to participate and try to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, the solution isn't a cookie-cutter solution and I don't think the time frame is either. I don't think what anyone can predict what type of obstacles we might receive in the process."

Several residents told of the problems they face, including Gus Galliford.

"We're concerned about the deer just ravaging our property," Galliford said. "They're coming in numbers we've never seen before. I built my house 25 years ago and lived in the neighborhood all that time, but after this past spring, they're just destroying the whole thing."

The deer have cost his family thousands and thousands of dollars, Galliford said.

Kirsch said an overpopulation of deer are a problem on at least three levels: ecological damage, car accidents and transmission of disease.

His best suggestions for now: fencing, repellents, and fertility control.

Molino suggested the city may need to set up a committee to study the issue and recommend a solution.

Reporting for story provided by The Batavian's news partner, WBTA AM/FM.

August 10, 2015 - 3:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, pets, crime, batavia.
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Brandon Maldonado Melissa Broadbent

Melissa Broadbent, a defendant in an animal cruelty case, appeared in City Court this afternoon and surrendered ownership of her dog, a pit bull named Rocky.

Rocky was scaled with hot water sometime around July 20. Broadbent's boyfriend is accused of abusing the dog and Broadbent is accused of facilitating the crime and trying to cover it up.

We reported earlier today that Rocky is at the Animal Shelter and doing much better.

An animal control officer was in court today when Broadbent signed a document turning the dog over to the Sheriff's Office. The change in ownership will allow Animal Shelter volunteers to seek a new home for Rocky.

With Broadbent's agreement, Rocky is spared potential months in confinement at the shelter while her case winds through the legal process.

Broadbent, 36, is charged with: "overdriving, torturing and injuring" an animal; endangering the welfare of a child; first-degree coercion; offering a false written statement; intimidating a witness or victim in the third degree; and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog.

With no prior felony or misdemeanor convictions, Broadbent was released from custody and placed under supervision by Genesee Justice by Judge Robert Balbick.

Broadbent's boyfriend, 26-year-old Brandon M. Maldonado, of 52 Walnut St., is charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal and offering a false written statement. He also appeared in court today.

Maldonado is currently on parole, but his public defender, Jamie Walsh, said he isn't aware of a violation being filed in connection with his arrest and said it's his understanding that Maldonado has been doing well on parole. He asked Balbick to set bail at $5,000 or $10,000 bond.

Robert Zickl, ADA, noted Maldonado does have that felony conviction, plus five misdemeanor convictions and five previous failure to appear charges.

Balbick went along with Zickl's recommendation of bail in the amount of $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.

A pre-trial hearing, also known as a felony hearing, has been set in Maldonado's case for 11:15 a.m., Thursday.

Broadbent, who waived a felony hearing, isn't due back in court until next month. Balbick did sign a stay away order of protection for her and her children and told her to take up any visitation rights with Family Court.

Zickl noted that the Department of Social Services will be investigating the case.

August 10, 2015 - 1:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, pets, crime, batavia.

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Brandon Maldonado Melissa Broadbent

Rocky, the 2- to 3-year-old pit bull found at a local residence reportedly suffering from second- and third-degree burns from scalding water poured on his back, is doing much better, according to Batavia PD officials.

The boyfriend of the dog's apparent owner and the owner were charged Friday with several crimes related to the incident, including animal cruelty and lying to police about the incident.

The dog was burned around July 20 but the incident wasn't reported to police until Aug. 3.

Batavia Police Officer Peter Flanagan and Animal Control Officer James Sheflin investigated the complaint.

As a result of the investigation, Brandon M. Maldonado, 26, of 52 Walnut St., was charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal and offering a false written statement.

His girlfriend, 36-year-old Melissa A. Broadbent, and believed to be the dog's owner, allegedly tried to help Maldonado cover up the crime, including coercing her children into lying about the incident, and was charged with: "overdriving, torturing and injuring" an animal; endangering the welfare of a child; first-degree coercion; offering a false written statement; intimidating a witness or victim in the third degree; and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog.

The couple are scheduled to appear in City Court on the charges this afternoon.

Sgt. Dan Coffey said a State Street Animal Hospital vet conveyed to police that the dog was likely in a great deal of pain between the time he was burned and brought in for treatment nearly two weeks later.

It's expected that the second and third-degree burns will leave permanent scars, and some patches of skin will never regrow any fur. 

Despite what he's been through, Rocky was in great spirits during a visit at the Animal Shelter today. He was eager to meet a visitor and go outside. He readily obeyed commands to sit and stay.  

The dog's wounds show marked improvement from what was visible in the photo released by police Friday.

Officials believe Broadbent has owned Rocky since he was a puppy.

Coffey said police are trying to work through the District Attorney's Office to find a way to speed along the process that would result in a new owner for Rocky. As in previous dog cruelty cases, the owner must relinquish ownership or be convicted of a crime before the dog can go into foster care or to a new permanent home.

August 9, 2015 - 9:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, cats, animals, batavia, missing pets.

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From Marybeth Stefani:

I recently moved to Ross Street. My cat Mittens was always an indoor cat, but since moving to the new place she was eager to get outside, so we let her. She was only going as far as the neighbor's and would show up periodically throughout the day. We have been here for a month and a half. Well last Monday is the last I’ve seen of her

She is a female cat who is about 14 years old. She has a scar on her lower side (from a cat fight from before I adopted her). When she went missing, she was wearing a purple flea collar on which I had written her name and address. She is friendly but hides from people she doesn't know.

She could be hiding under a porch or even a garage, so I am asking people to keep their eyes out for her.  She is a family cat and we are missing her terribly! I can be contacted by phone 585-297-7418.

July 28, 2015 - 10:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, pets, batavia.

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Spike is missing.

The tortoise belongs to a local family who's owned him for 16 years. He escaped from their yard around 2 p.m., Friday. A neighbor on Summit Street, trying to be helpful, thought Spike was a turtle and took him to the Tonawanda Creek behind the courthouse and released him. It's possible two kids who were there fishing took him home.

Family friend Mike Hilchey is fielding tips on Spike's whereabouts. He can be reached at (585) 344-0931.

May 24, 2015 - 8:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Flyball, sports, dogs, animals, pets, batavia.

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It's an adrenaline rush to see one of his border collies racing through four jumps, grabbing a tennis ball and streaking back to him, said Hamburg resident Peter Russell, who was in Batavia on Saturday to compete in a biannual flyball competition at the Fairgrounds.

Flyball is a dog-racing sport. Teams are comprised of four dogs and four handlers. Each dog runs down a track, jumping over four hurdles, hitting a platform at the end of the track, which releases a tennis ball, and then the dog runs back through the hurdles with the ball. The race is a relay, so once the first dog returns, the next dog runs the next leg.

The sport was created in California in the late 1960s and has grown to international proportions.  

Russell is a member of the Buffalo Wings Flyball Team, which has won national championships.

More than 15 teams competed yesterday, with dogs and owners traveling to Batavia from throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada.

The exhibition hall at the fairgrounds on Saturday was a cacophony of yelps and yaps and a whir of flashing fur.

"I think people enjoy the sport because of how quick it is," Russell said. "Races come down to hundredths of a second."

It's also a social sport, said Cindy Henderson, a resident of Massachusetts and regional director for the North American Flyball Association.

"You're with four different people," Henderson said. "That's what's fun about it. You're working with a whole team of people. It's not like other sports where you're just one handler working with a dog. You're a team."

Each member of the team has a specific role. The lead dog needs to have stamina since false starts can mean multiple trips down the track before there's a legal start. There are the middle leg dogs who need to be fast and agile, and then there's the anchor dog, who ideally loves to race and has the competitive drive to overtake another dog if the team has fallen behind. There also needs to be a height dog. The height dog is the smallest dog on the team. The shorter the dog, the lower the hurdles for the team.

Russell and his wife own 13 border collies. Four of them are retired and nine of them race. They're also breeders.

Border collies are particularly well suited to the sport, Russell said.

"It gives them a job to do," he said. "Border collies are bred to herd sheep, so they need a job to do. Their job is to go get the ball and come back to you and tug on their toy. In essence, that's their job for the day. It gives them some mind stimulation, because it's a difficult sport to learn and master and it gives them the physical stimulation because they're running over four jumps, hitting a box, coming back, tugging on the tug when they get back to you."

Alissa Schwab, of Amherst, owns a Jack Russell terrier, the height dog for the Buffalo Wings.

"I got started because obedience training wasn't enough for Jack Russell terriers," Schwab said. "The Buffalo wings needed a fast height dog and they came to training and spotted him and he was hired."

She's been racing for seven years now and now owns three Jack Russells.

"It's great for my dogs," she said. "They look forward to it. The community of people from our region is just fantastic and the racing is good."

The owners enjoy the race. The dogs enjoy pleasing their masters and getting a treat at the end of the run, usually a tug on a rope, but maybe something a little more tasty.

"They like to be rewarded for doing things they love," Schwab said. "You're part of the reward. They want to come back to you."

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May 16, 2015 - 3:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dogs, animals, batavia.

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The Seneca Siberian Husky Club, which is based in Rochester, held its show today at Falleti Ice Arena.

Above, Shira Barkon, of Pennsylvania, with Jewel.

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Rick Church, of Michigan, with Sadie.

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Jan Haring, of New Jersey, showing Trooper for judge Dr. Richard Hideman.

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April 27, 2015 - 9:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, pets.

Kelly Rapone's daughter is worried sick about the whereabouts of her kitten, who has no experience as an outdoor cat. Tully is missing in the Bennett Heights area of Batavia. Tully is very friendly, but doesn't have a collar on. Tully "walks funny" because of a cerebral disorder. If you've seen Tully, can locate Tully or have Tully, call (585) 727-4737.

April 22, 2015 - 10:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, elba, byron, missing pets.

Hank is missing. Hank is 6 months old and escaped from home on Transit Road in Elba/Byron two days ago. If found, or with other helpful information, call (585) 297-0088 or (585) 490-3335. A reward is offered for Hank's return.

March 24, 2015 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, cats.

A small platoon of volunteers could deal with the army of stray cats in Batavia, the City Council was told during a long discussion of the issue Monday night.

Three representatives of the pro bono animal program at the SUNY Buffalo Law School recommend a trap, neuter, vaccinate and return program that they say has been successful elsewhere, even in small towns in Western New York.

West Seneca provides an example, said Joseph Smith, a law student working with the pro bono program. That community instituted TNVR and it made a huge difference.

"You can have as fast as a year turnaround," Smith said. "You can get direct results and significant results within a year."

The results include fewer nuisances from cats and fewer stray cats.

Problem cats fall into two categories -- community cats, which are cats who were once domesticated, but somehow became ownerless, and feral cats, which are cats born to a homeless cat and never domesticated.

Smith, along with fellow student Nicole Komin and Vice Dean Kim Diana Connolly, outlined the program's benefits, especially when compared to alternatives.

Stray cats will always be with you, both Smith and Komin emphasized. If you try to capture them and keep them, they'll overwhelm any such system. If you try to kill them, other strays will just move into the territory.

Cats tend to go where they can get food and shelter, be it a cat lover who feeds them, scraps from a restaurant or plentiful prey. If all the cats are removed from an area of food and shelter, other cats will just take their place.

TNVR solves that problem by returning non-breeding cats to those their former haunts.

Once fixed, cats fight less, howl less and spray less, making them much less of a neighborhood nuisance.

And if you can eliminate the breeders, there are fewer feral cats and eventually fewer community cats. They never disappear from a community, but over time, their numbers are greatly reduced.

The life expectancy of a homeless cat is seven or eight years.

Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante invited Smith, Komin and Connolly to speak with the council because she's been tasked with coming up with a program to deal with stray and feral cats.

Council members expressed an interest in learning more and supporting a task force to study the proposal further. 

Such a program could be implemented at no cost to the city because there are volunteer and community groups that can be tapped to help set up the program and take care of the task of trapping cats and getting them neutered and vaccinated before they're returned to the location where they're trapped.

Cats who have been through the program get a notched ear so they're identifiable as neutered, and once released, they've learned about the trap and will never allow themselves to be captured that way again, Smith said.

March 17, 2015 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, nature, Genesee County Airport, snowy owl.

Rebecca Grela shared this picture she took Saturday of the snowy owl at the Genesee County Airport.

January 7, 2015 - 11:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, Bethany, Genesee County Park, wildlife.

Deer in the southeast part of Genesee County have figured out that if they hide out in the county park they are not going to get shot at, which has led to an overpopulation of deer in the park, causing problems for the county's forestry management efforts.

County officials are considering -- and the discussion is still in early stages -- allowing a limited number of hunters to hunt deer in a portion of the park during bow hunting season.

"We're still working on the actual nuts-and-bolts details of the plan," said Tim Hens, county superintendent of highways. "It hasn't even been presented to the parks advisory committee yet, but I can tell you it would be very limited in nature in terms of not being through the entire park. It would be limited to specific areas of the park to avoid obvious conflicts with bicyclists and hikers and horseback riders and everything else that goes on down there. It is a multi-use park and the safety of everybody is obviously paramount."

The County Park covers about one square mile in Bethany. It was established in 1915 as the first county park in New York. The land was purchased in 1882 in order to procure cooking and heating wood for what was then the county poorhouse. Various efforts to plant trees in the park took place over the next two decades, and by 1935 nearly 170,000 tress had been planted.

The deer hunting plan is being drafted by an ad-hoc committee comprised of the parks supervisor, affiliated agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation, wildlife and forestry experts, and members of the Genesee County Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee.

The plan would be presented to the advisory committee when completed and if the committee approves it, it would still need approval by the County Legislature.

"Speaking in very general terms, the initial concept calls for a fee-based lottery draw for hunters who will have access to limited regions within the park for limited period of time during regular bow season," Hens said. "Hunting will be bow-only. Focus will be on deer management and there will be an initial emphasis with disabled vets and youth hunts."

The hunt would likely take place for more than one season, Hens said, but whether it became a perpetual event would depend on how successful it was at knocking down the deer population in the park. Letchworth, which is significantly larger, has an annual deer hunt for the same reason, but since the county park is smaller, an annual hunt may not be necessary.

Hens said the ad-hoc committee is interested in community feedback on the proposal and there will be a public information meeting on the plan before it is presented to the Legislature.

January 5, 2015 - 1:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, alexander, pets.

The man who shot a neighbor's dog on New Year's Eve won't be arrested, Sheriff Gary Maha said today.

Maha released the information report on the incident and in a statement the neighbor said he had started carrying his .357 Magnum that day because the dog had become increasingly aggressive toward him.

Another neighbor, a 78-year-old man, who said he saw the incident, told Deputy Bradley Mazur that he saw the dog charge across the shooter's yard and heard the dog growling and believed the dog intended to attack the man. He then heard two gun shots, but didn't see the dog get hit.

While Maha made no statement about why there will be no arrest, he shared a copy of Agriculture and Markets law, which says there is no liability when a person has a reasonable belief that he or she is being attacked by a dog and then kills that dog.

The dog's name was Pepper and she was owned by Greg Gass, a resident of Dodgeson Road, Alexander.

The Batavian first broke the news of the incident after the Gass family created a Facebook page called Justice for Pepper

The Gass family does not believe Pepper was an aggressive dog.

"She was the sweetest little thing," Jen Gass said. "She played with a little 5-year-old who pulled her ears and would play roughly, and Pepper never did anything about it. She played with other dogs and never had a problem. I know she's a big dog. She looks like a big dog and people can be intimidated, I guess, but she didn't have a mean bone in her body."

In his statement to police, the man who shot Pepper said the dog had been coming onto his property more frequently.

He said the day before the incident, Pepper, a bullmastiff, had been in his yard and acted aggressively toward him and his two grandchildren, ages 7 and 8. 

Once the dog saw me, it became aggressive towards me by barking and growling at me and snapped at me," the man wrote. "I was yelling and pointing at the dog to go home and I was concerned for my safety as well as my grandchildren. I then heard my neighbor, Greg, who is the dog owner, calling the dog's name. The dog did not leave right away when Greg was calling it to come home. I only yelled at the dog and I did not kick the dog or make any other physical contact. The dog ran towards the front yard and Greg was in the back yard. The dog never actually went to him. This was not the first time Greg's dog had been on my property. The dog was more aggressive with each time it was over here."

That incident convinced the man to start carrying his gun, he said.

He said he went out to his shed at about 12:34 p.m., New Year's Day, and the dog started to run directly at him and was barking and growling.

"I pulled out my gun and I yelled at the dog, 'go home, go on,' and the dog never stopped running at me," he said. "I was in fear for my own safety and took two steps backwards. The dog was about three feet from me and lunging at me and I shot the dog. I shot two rounds at the dog and I believed that the first round was in the upper chest just under the dog's neck. The second round was in the front of the dog's head."

Greg, he said, yelled over, "Did you just shoot my dog?" The man said he did.

Greg came over and asked the man, "When did you start carrying?" The man told him, "since yesterday when your dog did the same thing."

Mazur reviewed a surveillance video of the incident and wrote in his report that he consulted with Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini and provided his interpretation of what the video showed and shared what he had been told by the shooter and the witness. Mazur said Cianfrini advised him there was no crime committed and that the neighbor had a right to protect himself.

January 2, 2015 - 4:22pm
posted by Sarah Noble Moag in animals, Dairy Farm, outdoor work, machinery, truck driving.
Company Name: 
Synergy LLC
Job Type: 
Full-Time

Primary Goal: To maximize cattle feed efficiency, milk production and profitability

Operational Tasks:

December 26, 2014 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, outdoors, birds, Genesee County Airport.

Here's one of the snowy owls out at the airport in a photo by Dylan Brew, of Schoen Productions.

December 16, 2014 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, crime, pets, volunteers for animals.

Via The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

A man walking a dog on East Main Street sometime two weeks ago reportedly stomped a cat to death and Volunteers for Animals is offering a $750 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit.

"The owner of the dog sent the dog after the cat and the cat was being thrown up in the air," said Wendy Castleman, with the volunteers. "Then the man stomped on the cat, and according to the examination by a local veterinarian, the cat had numerous injuries caused by the dog as well as a broken spine and a crushed skull caused by the stomping."

The incident occurred around 6:30 p.m., Dec. 3, Castleman said, in the area of 600 E. Main St., Batavia.

"We see a lot of neglect at the shelter but this is different in that it is a very violent act," Castleman said. "We all found it extremely disturbing that someone would do this."

The volunteers initially offered a $500 reward, but through a donation this morning were able to up the reward to $750.

Batavia Police encourages anyone with information to call their confidential tipline at 345-6370.

December 9, 2014 - 2:18pm

A pair of snowy owls have returned to the Genesee County Airport. Jim Burns sent in these photos. Burns said he and other members of the Batavia Photo Club have been out photographing the pair, whom they dubbed George (above) and Martha.

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