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January 29, 2019 - 6:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal neglect, batavia, news, notify.

A former Batavia resident who admitted he lied to police about finding a starving puppy with ulcerated lesions on its paws pled guilty in City Court this afternoon to two misdemeanor counts, one for lying to police and the other for torturing an animal.

Brandon Welch, who is in his mid-20s and now resides in Long Island, appeared before Judge Robert Balbick with his private attorney Frank Ciardi.

Following a brief meeting outside the courtroom between Balbick, Ciardi and First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini, Welch agreed to accept the plea deal offered by the people.

Dressed as he was in the previous court appearance -- in dark slacks and a blue dress shirt -- Welch pled guilty to two Class A misdemeanors: falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (for claiming he found the starving puppy, when he actually had harbored the animal at his apartment on East Main Street for months); and torturing/injuring/not feeding an animal -- a violation of NYS Agriculture & Markets law, Article 26.

Another misdemeanor charge for owning/harboring an unlicensed dog was dismissed.

A felony charge for making a terroristic threat, for allegedly saying he would shoot the next police officer who showed up at his home, will be dismissed at Welch's sentencing in April. The DA's office found it problematic to get the two witnesses who allegedly heard the threat to travel to Genesee County for testimony, so the charge cannot be sustained.

Before accepting the plea deal, Welch made factual admissions to Cianfrini.

She asked Welch if on Oct. 4 he told Batavia police that he found a fawn and white colored pit bull near Route 33 and Seven Springs Road in Batavia when in fact he had harbored the animal at his home for several months. Welch replied yes.

Cianfrini asked if he failed to provide sustenance and medical aid for the puppy who was emaciated -- it was several months old and weighed only 9.2 pounds, had ulcerated paws, and was covered in feces and soaked with urine; Welch said yes.

Sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. The Long Island Probation Department will conduct a presentencing evaluation for the judge in the interim.

A stay away order of protection from Welch was issued for two people.

Balbick said there's a range of sentencing options for him to consider in April. The defendant could serve up to a year in jail, either straight time or intermittant time; have conditional or unconditional discharge upon release; and be fined up to $1,000 for each of the two misdemeanor counts.

In addition, Cianfrini asked to reserve the right to seek reimbursement for a tab of $4,593.38 that the county accrued to house and provide medical care for "Opal" until she was well enough to be adopted (and she was), and to house and care for two other dogs Welch relinquished when he was arrested. The judge agreed to her request.

After signing paperwork and shaking hands with his attorney, Welch seemed to leave the courtroom in decidedly better spirits, smiling broadly and energetically walking out to his vehicle.

January 28, 2019 - 8:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, animal abuse, animal neglect, batavia, notify.

Photo of Maya at the shelter July 20, before her health returned and she was adopted.

A tearful, remorseful Becky L. Frens pled guilty this afternoon in Town of Batavia Court to one count of overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal and failure to provide proper sustenance in the case of her Labrador retriever mixed breed named Maya.

Under the state Agriculture & Markets law, Article 26, Section 353, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is jail time of more than 15 days but not more than one year, and a fine of up to $1,000. As part of a plea agreement, Frens will serve no jail time nor pay any fine whatsoever.

She will pay restitution and, under supervision by Genesee Justice, volunteer 100 hours of community service work in the next 10 months, "obviously not at the animal shelter," said Batavia Town Court Judge Michael Cleveland.

A total of $116.84 in restitution must be paid to the nurse whose family adopted Maya, and $423.17 must be paid to the Volunteers For Animals to reimburse them for Maya's medical expenses while she was at the Genesee County shelter and in foster care awaiting a forever home.

Frens, (inset photo, right) who appeared with attorney Samuel Alba, also agreed to a one-year conditional discharge: she will not be incarcerated, but she is to have no violations of the law nor will she be able to adopt an animal from a shelter during that time. Alba noted his client has no criminal history.

Alba explained today that Frens took the dog into her home at 3475 Pearl Street Road in the Town of Batavia, even though it was not in good health, because it was her mother's pet and her mother was gravely ill.

First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini said when Frens found herself in that situation, she realizes now that she made "honest mistakes" and "bad decisions."

"It's still your responsibility to take care of an animal once you assume responsibility for it," Cianfrini said.

When the dog was brought to the shelter by an animal control officer after neighbors called for help, a trooper happened to be there, Cianfrini said. The trooper was so alarmed at the animal's condition, that he went to Frens' home to see what the circumstances were and found other pets there who were healthy.

Doing too little, too late

Receipts for over-the-counter shampoos and treatments showed that some effort was made to help the ailing dog. But Cianfrini said Frens did not act as quickly as she should have and the dog's condition continued to deteriorate.

Maya was subsequently diagnosed with multiple skin infections, mange, double ear infections that left her only able to hear a dog whistle, and her uncut nails were so long they cut into the pads of her feet and hobbled her movement.

Cianfrini said the plea agreement "doesn't put everything back" as it should be.

"Maya is a beautiful dog and she's still on the mend," she said, at which point she praised the "great work" by many who made that mending possible: State Police Troop A -- Batavia Barracks; State Street Animal Hospital staff, particulary veterinarians Fran Woodworth and Gwendolyn Wollney; Animal Control Officer Ann Marie Brady; and the tireless Volunteers For Animals, who ferried Maya to and from the vet, walked her, fed her, loved her, comforted and aided her.

Attorney Alba offered no excuses for his client, other than to say when Frens had tried to call shelters to relinquish ownership of Maya, she was always told there was no space.

"She never intended to harm Maya," Alba said. "She never intended to do anything malicious. She's extremely remorseful."

When asked if she had anything to say on her own behalf, a shaky Frens, who wore gray suede ankle boots, black cargo pants and a blue-and-black diamond-print knit top, used boths hands to steady herself at the table in front of the judge.

"I feel so bad this happened," she said softly, crying and sniffling as she spoke. "I tried to take care of my mom. I should have taken (Maya) to the vet, but I didn't have the means at the time."

In accepting the plea deal offered by the DA's office, Judge Cleveland said both sides met in conference last month and this month, and he feels the plea deal they came up with is fair.

Cleveland said in cases like this emotions can overshadow the facts at first, but as the "wheels of justice grind slowly" the facts of the case come to the forefront.

Judge: justice has been served

"The purpose (of the plea) is not to please everybody," the judge said. "It's to do justice. With restitution, people were compensated. I'm glad to hear Maya is doing well. Justice has been served in my opinion.

"(The defendant) has pled guilty to the charge and accepted responsibility; she has not tried to get out of it. The public interest will not be served in any way by jail time."

Cleveland went on to emphasize that volunteering hours for community service is not punishment, nor is it intended to be; it is meant to serve the community -- just like scouting or 4-H.

"If all we do is take from the community, pretty soon there'll be nothing left to take," Cleveland said.

Meanwhile, Frens, who is in her mid-50s, has 30 days to file a written appeal of the adjudication.

Outcome: better than it used to be

For the Volunteers For Animals, the outcome, while perhaps not ideal, is more or less deemed "the best they could hope for."

Time was not long ago, according to some, that animal neglect cases like this never even made it to court.

Brenda Cromwell, who has volunteered at the shelter since 2001, said after court today that the first case she recalls that sparked comparable outrage was 10 years ago in Le Roy when Stanley the beagle was found dead and people wrote letters and got angry about his treatment.

"This is an improvement over how things were," Cromwell said. "It's probably the best that we can expect."

Still, Cromwell is saddened by Maya's case, which came to light on July 10 when the dog somehow managed to get out of the house and make its way down the long gravel driveway. There it was found by neighbors across the street, who said they were shocked and appalled at the dog's emaciated condition; they called dispatch to report their pathetic discovery.

"She was so beaten down, so broken, when she came to us," Cromwell said. "She was happy for any attention at all; she was so neglected. I think (Frens) gave up. That dog was totally neglected."

(Photo below of Maya taken on July 20, which is 10 days after she was first brought to the shelter. With her nails trimmed, she could manage to walk better.)

Links to previous coverage:

Batavia woman arrested by Troopers at shelter when she tried to reclaim her neglected dog

'Maya' recovering at animal shelter while former owner makes first court appearance on neglect charge

Batavia woman accused of failing to care for dog was a no-show in court today, and so was her attorney

Case of neglected lab 'Maya' delayed again so former dog owner can gather 'more documentation'

Case of Pearl Street Road woman accused of neglecting dog delayed until January

January 9, 2019 - 3:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, notify, batavia, animal abuse, animal cruelty.

Suspected puppy abuser Brandon Joseph Welch was in Batavia City Court Tuesday afternoon for discovery and pretrial motions in his case.

The 23-year-old, who lived at an apartment on East Main Street in the city at the time of his arrest Oct. 18 (above photo), is charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (for claiming he found the starving puppy); torturing/injuring/not feeding an animal; and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog -- all misdemeanors.

He was also charged with making a terroristic threat, a Class D felony, for allegedly threatening to shoot the next police officer who showed up at his home. The status of that charge is unclear because of difficulties the prosecution has had with getting two witnesses, who live out of the area, to travel to Batavia to testify.

That was why bail for the felony was moot at Welch's last court appearance Oct. 25 when City Court Judge Robert Balbick set Welch's bail at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond solely on the misdemeanors.

At some point, Welch got out on bail; he sat with a buddy at the back of the gallery Tuesday until his case was called after 2:30 p.m. He stood with his private counsel Frank Ciardi before Judge Balbick; Welch was clad in a long-sleeved, medium-blue dress shirt and dark gray pants, his brown hair in a burr cut and beard neatly clipped.

Ciardi told the judge they would like the case "to come to a disposition" (rather than go to trial). 

First District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini said she is not sure of the terms or status of plea negotiations with District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and must confer with him about it.

"The sooner we can resolve this the better," Balbick said.

The next court appearance is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29.

The emaciated 9.2-pound pit bull mix pup -- named "Opal" by the Volunteers for Animals at the shelter -- was found roadside by a Good Samaritan in Stafford on Oct. 4. Welch was arrested after a tip to police.

Opal was nursed back to health by vets and volunteers and subsequently adopted.

Three other animals in Welch's care were seized from his home -- a bearded dragon lizard and two other mixed-breed dogs.

Welch is not liable for vet and shelter bills for the animals because he forefeited ownership of them.

Previously:

City resident accused of threatening to shoot cops in case of starving, neglected pup

Suspected puppy abuser gets bail, forfeits pet ownership

December 17, 2018 - 3:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal neglect, animal abuse, batavia, crime, news, notify.

There's yet another delay in the case of Becky L. Frens, former owner of "Maya," who is charged with "overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal; failure to provide proper sustenance."

Under the state Agriculture & Markets law, Article 26, Section 353, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor. 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 in court this morning wearing eyeglasses, a bright purple jacket, black cargo pants, black boots, and when her name was called, she stood unsmiling before Batavia Town Court Judge Michael Cleveland. An associate from the law firm of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, attorney Samuel Alba, accompanied her to the bench.

The prosecution requested and was granted a postponement in the dog neglect case so they could interview an animal control officer. Thus, it's now on the Batavia Town Court calendar for 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28.

Previously, on Oct. 22, the matter was held over so Frens could provide more documentation, ostensibly of her efforts to aid the 3-year-old Labrador retriever mixed breed prior to her arrest by State Police on July 10.

Maya was found by Frens' neighbors across the street from her Pearl Street Road home on July 9. They called the law after discovering the canine standing feebly by the roadside. The neighbors said the dog was extremely dehydrated and malnourished; it drank four bottles of water and ate multiple bowls of food right away. They said the dog's paws were in such bad shape it could barely walk.

Frens, who is in her mid-50s, went to retrieve the animal from the shelter the following day but was arrested instead (mugshot, inset photo)

Maya was subsequently diagnosed with multiple skin infections, mange, double ear infections that left her only able to hear a dog whistle, and uncut nails so long they were cutting into the pads of her paws.

Maya's very poor physical condition was caused by neglect, according to Volunteers for Animals, citing veterinary reports.

Maya was adopted a couple of months ago after vets and the volunteers got her health back on track.

November 15, 2018 - 8:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal neglect, animal rescue, Le Roy, news.

Law enforcement is responding to Mill Street in Le Roy for a report of four dogs left unattended for several weeks.

October 25, 2018 - 6:25pm

Photo of two additional dogs that Welch had. Both are at the county animal shelter.

Suspected puppy abuser Brandon Welch made his first court appearance yesterday afternoon since his arrest Oct. 18.

The 23-year-old, who lives in an apartment on East Main Street in the city, was granted bail at his preliminary hearing.

It was requested by his private counsel, Frank Ciardi, on the misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (for claiming he found the starving puppy); torturing/injuring/not feeding an animal; and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog.

Ciardi, whose criminal defense practice is based in Rochester, advocated his client's suitability for bail by noting that Welch has no criminal history, he's lived here two years and was employed in Churchville at the time of his arrest.

To Ciardi's right stood his diminutive client, silent and stoop shouldered; shackled and wearing orange jail uniform, with his head nearly shorn bald and his brown beard neatly trimmed.

City Court Judge Robert Balbick set Welch's bail at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond, which was not opposed by First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini.

The question of bail for the Class D felony charge of making a terroristic threat was deemed null and void after two witnesses could not get here in time to testify. The charge was brought after investigators learned that the defendant allegedly said he would shoot the next cop who came to his home.

Two female witnesses were to be served with orders of protection from Welch, subpoenaed and brought from the "other side of the state" to Batavia to testify about the threat they allege Welch made against law enforcement. That failed to happen by 11:30 a.m. yesterday.

As of the day before -- Tuesday afternoon -- Welch's case was docketed for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Yet the pair of witnesses was apparently scheduled to give statements earlier -- in the morning -- and the deadline could not be met.

The first district attorney said not only were orders of protection requested, and subpeonas sought, but the people requested all of Welch's firearms to be turned over; she was concerned that only two of three known weapons were recovered in Welch's apartment by law enforcement after they got a search warrant.

Judge Balbick said there was no order on file concerning the firearms.

Cianfrini said she had supporting depositions showing that the defense was asked to turn over all weapons and ammunition.

"He freely handed over the weapons he had there," replied Ciardi.

But a third weapon, a rifle which Cianfrini referred to as a "30-'ott'-6" -- which is a caliber, a size of cartridge (.30-06) that is used in various kinds of weapons and is powerful enough to take down a moose -- was not recovered.

The rifle and ammo were missing and a rifle case was "found empty," she said, adding that this made the people uncomfortable because Welch had been seen in possession of the rifle.

Ciardi then asked: "Why would he turn over two weapons and not all three?"

He added that if Welch is released -- he makes bail -- he will advise him to turn over all weapons.

To ensure their costs are covered, a security bond application was filed with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office by Animal Control to recoup costs to shelter, feed and care for Welch's pets.

An emaciated 9.2-pound pit bull mix pup now known as "Opal" was brought to Batavia Police after it was found in Stafford Oct. 4. A tipster later led police to Welch. 

Three other animals in his care were subsequently seized from Welch's home: a bearded dragon lizard, which, like Opal, is now in foster care; and two other mixed breed dogs, which Welch told Judge Balbick are part boxer and part German shephard, respectively. The canines appear healthy, albeit lean, and are at the shelter. They have an eager-to-please, energetic disposition.

Under Article 26 of the state Agriculture and Markets Law, the shelter is eligible to be reimbursed at a rate of $10 per animal per day for any seized animal in its custody, plus vet bills. Vet bills in Welch's case to date stand at $837.38 and counting.

The bond application sought was for more than $4,500, according to Animal Control.

Because Welch forfeited ownership of all four creatures, repayment for costs incurred and vet bills will not be sought and the security bond application was vacated.

Welch's next city court date is 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, for discovery on the misdemeanor counts and pre-trial motions.

Inset photo above right: This is an example of the kind of lizard -- a bearded dragon lizard -- Welch kept before relinquishing ownership Wednesday. It is not a picture of the one that belonged to Welch.

October 23, 2018 - 2:04pm

A 23-year-old City of Batavia man suspected of starving and neglecting a puppy found by a Good Samaritan in Stafford on Oct. 4 has been arrested.

Brandon Joseph Welch was arrested in the afternoon on Oct. 18 at his residence, 679 E. Main St., apt. 4H, and jailed without bail for allegedly making a terroristic threat to police, among other charges.

Batavia police executed a search warrant at his apartment in connection with the animal abuse case of a pup Volunteers for Animals at the shelter dubbed "Opal." That animal is now in foster care.

According to Batavia Police Det. Eric Hill, police got the warrant after receiving a tip from a witness.

Welch initially told police that he had found the puppy, a fawn-and-white colored female weighing only 9.2 pounds when rescued. The dog was not able to stand on its own and was covered in urine and feces, and was severely dehydrated and malnourished.

The police investigation determined Welch was "supposed to be caring for the dog," Hill said.

Welch said "he was going to shoot the next police officer who came to his apartment," Hill said, and police recovered firearms in Welch's possession.

Welch is charged with making a terroristic threat, which is a Class D felony, as well as falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (for claiming he found the animal); torturing/injuring/not feeding an animal; and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog.

He was arraigned the same afternoon, last Thursday, and is due in Batavia City Court tomorrow, at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Quider, assisted by Officer Jason Davis.

Opal, meanwhile, is looking like a different creature since she's been in foster care and received veterinary care and some decent nutrition. The pictures below -- sitting up smart and standing up strong on all fours, -- were sent to us yesterday by Volunteers for Animals. (Love those ears! Note the wagging tail!)

October 22, 2018 - 4:33pm

Becky L. Frens, who is accused of failing to provide for the basic needs of a 3-year-old Lab mix breed that used to be her pet, was in Batavia Town Court this afternoon.

The matter was again postponed, this time until 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 17.

Samuel Alba, an associate attorney with the law firm of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, told Judge Michael Cleveland that plea negotiations with the District Attorney's Office were ongoing and additional time was needed to submit "more documentation."

First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini said copies of any new documents need to be forwarded to the D.A.'s office. She said she did not have a problem with postponement; but come Dec. 17 the people will demand the case to be adjudicated or a trial date set.

That's exactly what Judge Cleveland had said the last time the case was on the docket, on Sept. 24, when neither Frens nor attorney Michael Ranzenhofer showed up like they were supposed to and without communicating anything to the court.

The matter was also delayed once during the summer, on July 30, after Ranzenhofer cited unspecified "complications."

Frens, who lives on Pearl Street Road in the Town of Batavia, is in her mid-50s and was accompanied to court today by a male, possibly her husband.

She stood quietly next to attorney Alba at the bench, looking different from both her previous court appearance and from her arrest mug shot (inset photo). Today, she had long straight blond locks, and wore a maxi skirt with swirls of teal, black and white, and a purple hooded jacket.

She was arrested July 10 by Troopers out of SP Batavia and charged with overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal; failure to provide proper sustenance.

Troopers were dispatched to the Genesee County Animal Shelter at the request of animal control officers after Frens arrived at the facility to claim her dog that had been found by her neighbor the day before.

"Maya" was in very poor health with multiple issues caused by neglect, according to Volunteers for Animals. The dog was diagnosed with multiple skin infections, mange, double ear infections that left her only able to hear a dog whistle, and her uncut nails were so long she could barely move.

Under the state Agriculture & Markets law, Article 26, Section 353, this is a Class A misdemeanor. 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.

A man who keeps the books for Volunteers for Animals said outside court this afternoon that he guessed Maya's vet bills were between $300 and $500.

The dog's mange has cleared up; knots of scar tissue on her back and shoulders were surgically removed; her muscles are stronger and she's gained weight; she's been spayed. And she's been adopted into a home that cares.

October 5, 2018 - 2:45pm

(Submitted photos) The condition of the abused puppy at the time she was found last night in Stafford.

The public is asked to help law enforcement find the owner of this emaciated puppy found last night on Route 33 and Prole Road Extension in Stafford.

The fawn-and-white colored female weighs only 9.2 pounds. The dog is not able to stand on its own. It was covered in urine and feces. It is severely dehydrated and malnourished.

The puppy was picked up by a Good Samaritan and turned over to the Batavia City PD and the case is now being investigated by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Due to the nature of the wounds present on the puppy, this is being investigated as animal cruelty.

The puppy was immediately examined and treated by a local veterinarian and was being cared for at the Genesee County Animal Shelter with the assistance of the Volunteers for Animals. They have named her "Opal" and she is now in a foster home until she is well enough to be adopted.

If you any ANY information about the owner of this puppy, please contact Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Forsyth at (585) 345-3000, ext. 3233.

Below, "Opal" today, clean and wrapped snuggly in fleece at the vet's office.

September 27, 2018 - 1:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in PETA, animal abuse, animal neglect, news, Announcements, Le Roy, pets.

Press release from PETA:

At around 8:30 on Saturday morning, a passerby discovered a cat inside a plastic bin—which was taped shut with duct tape and had no holes or other means of ventilation—abandoned on the side of the road at the intersection of Munson and Gilbert streets in Le Roy.

Officers believe that the male long-haired cat had been left there for approximately 20 minutes, and surveillance footage shows a white pickup truck at the scene.

The cat, now named Munson, is currently at the Genesee County Animal Shelter, but police have yet to determine who's responsible for abandoning him and leaving him to suffocate.

That's why PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction on cruelty-to-animals charges of the person or persons responsible for this crime.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to abuse in any way"—is also asking residents in the area to help spread the word and put up free downloadable posters (available here) in businesses and schools, on bulletin boards, and anywhere else that they're allowed to display them.

Someone may recognize this cat, and it might be the only way to apprehend those responsible for this cruel act.

If someone hadn't found him in time, this frightened cat would almost certainly have died inside that plastic box," says PETA Vice President Colleen O'Brien.

"PETA is calling on anyone who recognizes this cat to come forward immediately so that whoever shut him in this container and left him to suffocate can be held accountable and stopped from hurting anyone else."

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the Le Roy Police Department at 585-345-6350.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

Photos courtesy of the Le Roy Police Department.

September 24, 2018 - 5:55pm

The Pearl Street Road woman accused of failing to provide proper food and care for her 3-year-old Labrador retriever mixed breed named Maya was a no-show in Town of Batavia Court today, along with her attorney Michael Ranzenhofer.

The case of Becky L. Frens, who is about 56 years old, was on this morning's court docket for 10:30 and nearly two hours later Judge Michael Cleveland called her name and got no response from the gallery. The court clerk said earlier that the court had not heard from Frens or Ranzenhofer, nor had they appeared in court today.

Cleveland said Ranzenhofer had asked him for a second postponement in the case -- it had been delayed once on Aug. 27 until today -- but he denied the request, saying the reasoning for another postponement was not specific enough. Cleveland did not say when Ranzenhofer made the request, but he made it clear he had not heard from Ranzenhofer or Frens today and that they were due in court.

Next time, bench warrants

First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini said she would not ask for a bench warrant to be issued for either the client or attorney in this case, although she could, because she is giving Ranzenhofer the benefit of the doubt. Since he was not present, perhaps there was a miscommunication, she said. But if it happens next time, a bench warrant(s) will be sought.

The people are ready for trial, Cianfrini said.

Cleveland set the matter on the docket for 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, for either adjudication or to set a trial date, one or the other.

Frens was arrested on July 10 by troopers from the Batavia Barracks of the State Police after she went to the Genesee County Animal Shelter to retrieve her dog.

The day or so before Maya had gotten out and somehow managed to walk many, many yards on sore paws -- with nails so overgrown they were chewing into the pads -- down the Frens' gravelled driveway to the edge of the Pearl Street Road pavement. It was there that neighbors across the street saw the dog and coaxed it into their yard, where they gave it cat food and balogna and whatever nutrition they could round up. Emaciated, Maya scarfed it all down along with three bottles of water.

Then the neighbors called the law.

Frens 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. 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.

Update on Maya

Meanwhile, Maya had a big day today.

According to Volunteers for Animals' Lynette Celedonia, who aided Maya from day one, she was to be spayed today and the last knots of scar tissue from infection due to demodectic mange was to be surgically removed from her back and shoulder area.

Since July, Maya has made amazing progress, Celedonia said. Gina Lippa, also with Volunteers for Animals, agreed. They came to court today to hear the Frens' case and afterward were happy to report how well Maya is doing.

"Her coat has grown in and thickened up and she's put on weight; her hip bones and ribs are no longer showing," Celedonia said. "Her infections have cleared up. And her muscles are stronger from playing and running -- which in her case is more like hopping -- and she's been adopted by the best family possible."

A public health nurse and her husband adopted Maya and share their home with her and two other doggie companions, plus avian and feline companions.

Celedonia has a recent picture on her phone of Maya, snoozing on big comfy sofa, taken after an afternoon of romping around in her new yard, plumb tuckered out and looking like a different, healthier dog.

July 30, 2018 - 8:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal neglect, notify, news, batavia, crime.

mayarescuejuly2018.jpg

frensmug2018.png
       Becky L. Frens

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 Brady 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.

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July 15, 2018 - 12:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal neglect, animal torture, batavia, crime.

From the New York State Police:

On Tuesday, July 10, at 5:25 p.m., Troopers out of SP Batavia arrested Becky L. Frens, 56, of Batavia, for overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal; failure to provide proper sustenance.

Troopers were dispatched to the Genesee County Animal Shelter in the Town of Batavia at the request of animal control officers.

Frens arrived at the animal shelter to claim a dog that was previously located the day before. The dog was in very poor health with multiple issues caused by neglect.

The dog was diagnosed with multiple skin infections, mange, double ear infections, and had uncut nails so long that the dog could not walk.

The dog was left in the care of the Genesee County Animal Shelter and Frens was arrested and processed at SP Batavia.

Frens was issued an appearance ticket returnable to the Town of Batavia Court for later this month.

July 1, 2018 - 12:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, pets, scanner, batavia, news.

A dog is reportedly locked inside a black Ford pickup truck in the parking lot in front of Kohl's department store off Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia.

An animal control officer is responding to check its welfare after someone called dispatch. It's 89 degrees now and the heat index is 97. It will get hotter today.

UPDATE 12:56 p.m.: "Unable to locate. I'll be clear; returning to the shelter," says the officer.

June 13, 2018 - 1:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal rescue, pets, news, batavia.

A dog is locked in a car with the windows up in the Walmart parking lot in Batavia. It is described as a red Honda Pilot, which is an SUV, parked in row 10. An animal control officer is responding.

June 1, 2018 - 8:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, animal abuse, animal cruelty, pet rescue.

Law enforcement is responding to the parking lot on Veterans Memorial Drive in the Town of Batavia outside GameStop for a report of a dog locked inside a blue Chevy Silverado truck. It's 79 degrees now here.

GameStop is located at 4232 Veterans Memorial Drive, unit E-2.

May 30, 2018 - 1:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, news, animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal rescue, pets.

A dog has been locked inside a vehicle at 12 S. Lake Ave. in Bergen for at least the last 45 minutes, says a caller to dispatch.

An officer is responding.

It's 90 degrees outside.

January 6, 2018 - 4:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, byron, news, animal abuse.

A barn with both doors open on Transit Road, potentially endangering the lives of animals corraled inside, prompted a call to dispatch. "This caller is concerned about the welfare of the animals due to the cold weather."

The location is reportedly a half mile north of Route 262, which is on the border between Elba and Byron. An animal control officer is heading there now to check their welfare. 

December 28, 2017 - 1:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, horses, Stafford, news.

An animal control officer is responding to check the welfare of two horses corraled off Main Road in Stafford that appear to be malnourished, according to a caller to dispatch.

The caller could not provide the exact address of the property but told a dispatcher it is in the area of Nilesville Road, on the north side of Main Road, and that those are the only horses in that vicinity.

September 1, 2017 - 3:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, news, animal abuse.

A man accused of forcibly stealing a cell phone and beating and strangling a woman's beagle will get a thorough mental health exam to determine his fitness for court proceedings, Judge Charles Zambito ordered today in Genesee County Court.

Shawn Michael Twardowski is charged with one count of third-degree robbery, a Class D felony, for allegedly taking a cell phone from a woman on Jan. 26 on Bank Street in the City of Batavia; and one count of cruelty to animals, a Class A misdemeanor.

A possible plea deal was withdrawn, for now at least.

His attorney, Michael Locicero, told Judge Zambito that his client "displayed competency issues in his last court appearance" in August. Today, Locicero reiterated his concerns, saying a recent "mental forensic evaluation" does not address Twardowski's "competency per se" and he again expressed reservations about his client's "fitness to proceed," and comprehend a plea bargain.

Locicero said his client told him that at some point he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but nothing in his file confirms that diagnosis. He described his client as "non-responsive" in face-to-face dealings with him. Indeed throughout his brief appearance in County Court this morning, the tall, lanky Twardowski, handcuffed and wearing inmate orange, sat or stood slope-shouldered, staring vacantly at the table. 

The defense attorney once more asked for a "730 Exam" -- a comprehensive mental health evaluation of his client.

Last month, Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl objected to that request and noted that no comprehension issue was raised when the defendant sought a judicial diversion. Zambito, who subsequently called for more information and specifics to be gathered in the intervening weeks, seemed reluctant to grant the 730 Exam request.

"I've reviewed the records," Zambito said. "There's nothing to indicate he's incompetent, but I have not dealt with him personally."

Zickl again objected to the request, adding that the plea offer would be withdrawn and if he is found competent, the case would go to trial.

"If he's (found) not competent to stand trial, he's not competent to consider a plea offer," Zambito said, making Zickl's point moot.

Zambito ordered a 730 Exam for Twardowski.

The case is on the docket again at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13.

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