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animal neglect

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

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 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.

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.

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

mayarescuejuly2018.jpg

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       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.

August 1, 2013 - 2:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, animal cruelty, animal neglect.

The landlord of a property on East Main Street in the City of Batavia called dispatch concerned about pets there that may be neglected. His tenant hasn't been home in awhile but the person's tarantula, snake and cat are inside and may be in need. An officer will be responding.

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