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animal abuse

November 8, 2019 - 12:57pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his years-long support and advocacy, his legislation, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, has unanimously passed the Senate and will now head to the president’s desk for signature.

The bipartisan PACT Act, introduced in the Senate by senators Pat Toomey [R-PA], Richard Blumenthal [D-CT], Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] and Dick Durbin [D-IL], and cosponsored by Schumer, closes a loophole created by the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act.

The law criminalized the creation and distribution of videos depicting the torture of animals, but prevented federal law enforcement from prosecuting abusers.

Once the PACT Ace is signed into law, Schumer explained, criminals that are caught torturing or otherwise harming animals can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and even sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

“For far too long, animal abusers have used a loophole to avoid penalties or repercussions for their heinous acts," Schumer said. "The maiming and torturing of innocent animals is abhorrent and will now finally be a federal felony, punishable to the fullest extent of the law.

"After years of supporting the PACT Act, I’m delighted that it’s finally headed to the president to be signed and become law."

“Time and again, we’ve seen the linkage between animal cruelty and cruelty and crimes against people," said Libby Post, executive director, New York State Animal Protection Federation. "It is essential to take pro-active steps to curtail animal crimes and give law enforcement the tools they need to stop these crimes.

"Shelters across New York are partners with law enforcement and district attorneys that tackle animal cruelty. Many shelters across the state give safe harbor to the animals who survive this abuse. The New York State Animal Protection Federation stands with Senator Schumer in fighting animal crimes and thanks him for standing up for animals. The PACT Act is a crucial step forward and we have Senator Schumer to thank for it."

Though Schumer supported the PACT Act during the last two Congresses as well, it ultimately failed to pass in the House of Representatives. The PACT Act was reintroduced this year by Senators Blumenthal, Toomey, Feinstein and Durbin, and garnered a bipartisan group of 41 cosponsors, including Schumer.

Despite the federal animal crush video law enacted in 2010, banning the creation, sale, and distribution of videos that show live animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to other heinous abuse, Congress failed to make the act of crushing a federal crime.

Therefore, even when there was overwhelming and substantiated evidence that torture is taking place, current federal law only prohibits and criminalizes animal cruelty if the offenders create and sell videos depicting the abuse, leaving federal law enforcement unable to arrest known abusers or protect the animals. The PACT Act ensures that those found guilty of torturing animals face fines, felony charges, and up to seven years in prison.

The PACT Act is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Wellness Action, National Sheriffs' Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and more than 200 law enforcement agencies across the country.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the companion bill on Oct. 23 with 301 cosponsors.

August 26, 2019 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, animal abuse, animal rescue, pets, scanner.

City police are responding to the JCPenney parking lot for a report of a dog locked inside a black Chevy sedan with the windows rolled up.

August 21, 2019 - 2:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal rescue, batavia, news, scanner.

An animal control officer for Batavia Police Departmart is called to the parking lot by the UMMC Emergency Room for a dog showing signs of heat stress.

An EMS technician removed the dog from the vehicle after finding it locked inside. The rescuer is out with the canine awaiting the officer's arrival.

According to the National Weather Service, it's mostly sunny and 79 degrees in Batavia.

August 12, 2019 - 12:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal rescue, scanner, news.

Dispatch received a complaint that a female placed a turtle on her front porch and has not been caring for it. It has been on the porch for about a week. The call came from a neighbor. Didn't catch the location. An animal control officer is responding.

August 12, 2019 - 11:42am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, animal abuse, animal rescue, pets, scanner, news.

An unoccupied SUV in the grocery pickup section of the Walmart parking lot reportedly has a dog locked inside. The caller waited by the vehicle 15 minutes to see if the owner would return before calling dispatch. An animal control officer and a deputy are en route.

UPDATE 11:44 p.m.: The deputy is on site and speaking with the dog owner. The deputy advises the animal control officer can disregard the dispatch.

August 9, 2019 - 12:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal rescue, news, batavia, scanner.

A caller reports a pet(s) left behind when the occupants moved out of a residence on Valley View Drive in Batavia. An animal control officer is responding.

UPDATE 5:42 p.m.: A reader with knowledge of the situation writes: "The owners were located and the pets are being taken care of by family members while the owners deal with some health issues."

August 3, 2019 - 12:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal rescue, pets, news, scanner, batavia.

A dog is locked in a vehicle in the Aldi parking lot on East Main Street in Batavia. It's a white car near the end of the lot, says the dispatcher. The window is down one inch. It's 77 degrees outside now. An animal control officer is responding.

UPDATE 12:14 p.m.: The vehicle has Florida license plates.

August 2, 2019 - 3:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal rescue, animal abuse, batavia, pets, news.

Photos and information from reader Roberta White:

This dog was in a truck in the Walmart parking lot in Batavia for 20-25 minutes minimum before dispatch was contacted and law enforcment officers arrived at about 2 p.m.

An animal control officer said the dog was definitely uncomfortable. She said if it was an older dog, it would have been in serious trouble.

She also said it was her third call to Walmart today. She's had made four or five trips in Genesee County today for dogs locked inside hot vehicles.

The truck owner was paged in the store while officers tried to unlock the vehicle. Surface temperature inside was 102 degrees. It's 80 degrees outside.

July 20, 2019 - 4:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, scanner, animal rescue, animal abuse, batavia.

A dog is locked in a vehicle in this sweltering heat in the parking lot of BJ's Warehouse in Batavia. The caller reports it's in a black Ford Expedition parked in a handicapped space without a handicapped placard displayed.

It's 88 degrees and there's heat advisory in effect until 6 p.m.

An animal control officer is responding.

July 4, 2019 - 12:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, pembroke, animal abuse, scanner.

A dog has reportedly been locked inside a brown Ford F-350 pickup truck for 45 minutes outside the restaurant at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Pembroke.

The plaza is located at 8484 Alleghany Road. An animal control officer is responding. It's 85 degrees outside.

June 25, 2019 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, animal abuse, pets, scanner.

A caller to dispatch reports a poodle is locked inside a Chevy Avalanche pickup truck in the Walmart parking lot. The windows are down about an inch. An animal control officer is responding.

June 22, 2019 - 4:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, animal abuse, animal rescue.

A caller reports a dog has been locked in a car for more than an hour in the rear parking lot of UMMC. The caller did not know the model of the vehicle, but said it has out-of-state license plates. An animal control officer is responding.

April 23, 2019 - 7:08pm

Above, mugshots of Brandon Joseph Welch after his arrest in October.

A former Batavia resident is being held accountable starting today for the "horrific" treatment of a tortured and starving puppy after City Court Judge Robert Balbick sentenced Brandon Joseph Welch to immediately begin serving two months in Genesee County Jail, and a total of three years probation.

Welch made his sixth court appearance this afternoon, flying in from his parents' house in Florida, accompanied by his mother. His attorney is Rochester-based Frank Ciardi.

The native of Suffolk County pled guilty earlier this year 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. The charge of owning/harboring an unlicensed dog was not mentioned, so apparently it was dropped.

Welch was arrested Oct. 18 after a warrant was served at his apartment at 679 E. Main St., following a tip from a witness.

"Opal" -- so named by Volunteers For Animals at the shelter -- is a fawn and white colored pitbull mix who was a few months old and weighed only 9.2 pounds when rescued on Oct. 4 after she was found by a Good Samaritan in Stafford. The dog was not able to stand on her own and was covered in urine and feces, and was severely dehydrated and malnourished.

Opal subsequently received nourishment, medical treatment, grooming and exercise while in foster care and was later adopted.

A Class D felony charge of making a terroristic threat, for Welch's alleged threat to shoot the first cop who came to his residence, was dropped because the cooperation of two witnesses, who live in another part of the state, proved problematic.

Today Ciardi articulated all that his client is going through to get his life together. He noted the lengthy pretrial period and that his client always showed up for court appearances. He noted that he has found suitable employment as a diesel mechanic trainee in Florida.

Welch moved to the Sunshine State after initially staying with his grandparents, who live on South Fairview Avenue, in the Village of Montauk, Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County -- on the Long Island Peninsula.

Ciardi said his client has availed himself of mental health treatment and is making progress all around after changing his lifestyle.

"He lacked the mental health to have a life that's fulfilling," Ciardi said.

The defense attorney reminded Balbick that Welch's offenses are misdemeanors. He argued against any incarceration, which Genesee County Probation recommended, and was against his client serving probation in Genesee County since he has no ties here.

"Jail would serve no purpose; it would bring him back down," Ciardi said, and put the brakes on the diesel mechanic career path Welch is pursuing.

The defense attorney even suggested that sentencing be postponed altogether until a course of mental health treatment was completed. He said it would be good if his client could continue his employment as a novice truck mechanic in Florida and have probation oversight transferred there.

Barring that, at least have it transferred to Suffolk County -- Welch could move back to his grandparents' place or make other living arrangements there where he was born and raised and has extended family.

Ciardi questioned whether Genesee County Probation actually read the two-page addendum to his client's presentencing report from Suffolk County, which recommends no incarceration and positively notes the good measures Welch is taking to get his life in order.

He strongly disputed Genesee County Probation Department's assertion that Welch took no responsibility for his actions.

"He took full responsibility -- for lying to police, for his poor choices, for putting his family through this," Ciardi said. "He has no prior record."

Balbick outright dismissed the notion of adjourning sentencing. The judge said the allegations against Welch were serious and he agreed that some incarceration was warranted.

But the game changer was Welch's decision to up and move to Florida before his case was adjudicated, essentially removing himself from Balbick's jurisdiction. This did not sit well with the judge at all even though he broke no law in doing so.

The prospect of getting a probation department in Florida to make room for the oversight of a misdemeanor New York case is not a given. It would be a complicated, lengthy and uncertain landscape to navigate.

By removing himself from New York State, it "exponentially complicated" his case and thereby put the terms of his probation on "shaky ground," Balbick said.

"That move to Florida really put the court in a bind," Balbick said.

When asked if he had anything to say on his behalf, a tearful Welch -- dressed in a long-sleeved red, white and navy plaid shirt, with navy pants and black dress shoes -- told Balbick that he's making progress in his life and that his "dream job" of becoming a diesel mechanic means everything to him. He would be devastated, he said, if he lost the opportunity he currently has in Florida.

The judge called a recess in order to contact the GC Probation Department to be sure they had read the addendum in the presentencing report from Suffolk County.

Welch walked from the podium that's in front of the judge to the gallery and sat next to his mother and cried and sniffled for 30 solid minutes.

When the case was recalled at 3 p.m., Ciardi and Welch stood at the podium and the judge told them that GC Probation confirmed they had read the addendum but still recommended a period of incarceration and he agreed with them.

Welch stood with his shoulders hunched and his arms crossed tightly across his chest.

"Your move to Florida complicated this matter tremendously," Balbick told the defendant. "What you did to (that animal) was horrific. There has to be accountability for the injuries and mistreatment. That's why you find yourself here in this situation."

Balbick proceeded to sentence Welch to "shock probation" of 60 days in jail starting right then and there. He said while he's incarcerated, he has no problem with getting probation transferred to Suffolk County, NY -- Florida is out of the question. Welch's probation will end on April 22, 2022.

Other stipulations:

  • He must notify his probation officer of any change in address, employment, treatment, education;
  • Get job training or a job;
  • Pay a $200 surcharge as required for falsely reporting an incident to law enforcement;
  • Pay a $50 DNA database fee;
  • Two orders of protection were renewed for two witnesses;
  • Allow courts/law enforcement/authoriites to access treatment and mental health records;
  • Avoid disreputable people and places;
  • Do not use mood-altering drugs or substances;
  • Undergo testing as need be;
  • Own/harbor NO PETS;
  • Get a substance-abuse evaluation from an OASIS-licensed clinician;
  • Within four weeks, get a mental-health evaluation;
  • Do not possess any firearms.

Welch, looking dejected and sniffling still, asked if he could hand his mother his wallet and mobile phone before being taken into custody. The Sheriff's deputy at hand said no and took the items from him and gave them to his mother in the gallery.

Welch asked if he could step outside the courtroom and speak briefly with his mother and tell her goodbye. The judge said "if it's all right with the deputy." "No" replied the deputy, "we usually don't allow it once you're taken into custody."

With that, the mother cried and mouthed "I love you" and her 23-year-old son, pouting, arms clenched across his chest, eyes downcast, was led away to jail by another deputy to begin his "shock probation."

Below, photo of Opal when she was first brought to the GC Animal Shelter.

Below, Opal after being nursed back to health and ready for adoption, which was successful.

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!)

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