A Pearl Street Road resident accused of neglecting her 3-year-old female dog appeared briefly in Town of Batavia Court this afternoon.
Shortly after 1 p.m., Becky L. Frens approached the bench of Judge Michael Cleveland flanked by her attorney Michael Ranzenhofer.
The senator with 38 years of legal expertise is a partner in the law firm Friedman & Ranzenhofer PC, with eight offices in Western New York, including one on Main Street in Batavia.
Ranzenhofer cited unspecified "complications" and asked for a delay in the case. The people, represented by Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl, told the judge they are ready to proceed in the matter.
Cleveland granted Ranzenhofer's request for a delay and the next court appearance for 56-year-old Frens is set for 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 27.
Today, Frens looked a lot different than the photo taken July 10 following her arrest by troopers from the Batavia Barracks of the State Police after she went to the Genesee County Animal Shelter to retrieve her dog.
She is charged with overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal; and failure to provide proper sustenance under the state Agriculture & Markets law, Article 26, Section 353, which is a Class A misdemeanor. (Find the section in Ag & Markets law here.)
If found guilty, a defendant faces jail time of more than 15 days but not greater than one year. In addition, a fine of up to $1,000 can be imposed.
Frens was dressed in a solid blue, A-line knit top, three-quarter-sleeved with lacy cut-outs, mid-calf black capris, and delicately embossed, pale blue slides. Her medium brown tresses looked freshly curled and hung well past her shoulders. She wore eyeglasses.
Looking only slightly better today was Frens' former pet, a Labrador retriever mixed breed named Maya, which happens to be Sanskrit for "create."
The dog still has a long road ahead.
Volunteers walked her out for a visitor at the Animal Shelter at about 2 o'clock.
Animal Control Officer Ann Marie Brade said when Maya was brought in "she was able to walk, but the length of her nails was so long, that she was not able to walk on concrete or tiles, which is what we have at the shelter, until her nails were cut. With the long nails and the shape of her pads, it was painful.
"She has some genetic issues and some splayed tendons. She doesn't have much muscle mass; she can't stand the heat. When she first came here, she couldn't exercise for any length of time.
"She was very thin and she is still gaunt. Very underweight, you can see her hips. Since she's been getting treatment, she's put on a few pounds. But we don't want her to put on a lot of weight yet, so it's a constant battle of weighing her, adjusting her feed. The Volunteers for Animals help monitor her and give her special feed. They take her to the vet and pay for the vet bills.
"She has open sores on her body, bacterial infections, fungal infections. She has several infections we are getting under control. She has demodectic mange, which is in everyone's system, but when the immune system becomes compromised, it goes haywire."
On top of all that, she is nearly 90 percent deaf now because of chronic, heretofore untreated infections in both ears. There is a lot of scar tissue in her ears as a result. She can hear a whistle, but not much else.
Maya's eyesight was also impaired. She could not see a hand held out with a treat in front of her face -- at least not at first -- she kept missing it with her muzzle. But after three weeks of some decent nutrition and medical control of her infections, she can find the hand in front of her nose.
She's not as stinky. She can manage to jump onto the seated lap of a volunteer these days; a feat that she could not do only a couple of weeks ago.
And despite everything, "she's always happy to see us," said volunteer Lynette Celedonia.
Maya belongs to the shelter and it will hold onto her until she is healthy enough to find a home -- food, water, walkies, treats, mercy, humaneness, decency.
The woman who initially found Maya is seriously considering adopting her, although, with the interest in Maya's story, Christina Homer-Roviso is sure there will be many contenders.
Homer-Roviso said she never had a clue the neighbors across from her sister-in-law's house had a dog. Then came the day earlier this month when Maya was standing across the road looking pathetic.
Homer-Roviso coaxed her across the asphalt in order to help her and she said "watching her try to walk was hard."
"Oh, my gosh, that dog was starving," said the sister-in-law, Lynne D. Homer. "We gave her two bowls of cat food, some baloney, and sausage; she drank three bottles of water."
"She was missing patches of fur, was (in) really, really bad (condition). ... Someone like (Frens) should not have a freakin' animal and to live in a house like that," said a visibly shaken Homer-Roviso, fighting back tears.
Frens lives in a 3,236-square-foot Colonial built in 2002. The four-bedroom, two-bath custom-built home also has two outbuildings and sits on 11.7 acres. The assessed value is $283,400.
"I own five dogs, horses, goats, chickens, and cats. I tell my kids 'You can go get food and water. These animals can't. You have to do that for them.' "
For previous coverage, click here.
Photos by Howard Owens.