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Batavia PD releases safety tips after bear spotted in back yard on Vine Street

By Howard B. Owens
bear on vine street batavia

Batavia PD has a timely reminder for city residents: Never approach a bear.

The warning comes after a Ring camera on a residence on Vine Street recorded a bear walking through backyard.

Other safety tips:

  • Secure food, garbage and recycling;
  • Do not leave pet food outside;
  • Remove bird feeders if you spot bears in your yard;

More tips regarding being bear-wise can be found on the DEC website.

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Photo: Porcupine in the woods in Alexander

By Staff Writer

A reader submitted this photo and said Spencer Wuest took a picture of a porcupine this past weekend while walking in the woods in Alexander.

Health Department seeking information on dog that bit person in Centennial Park

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner following a dog bite incident on Monday, April 1. The incident occurred at Centennial Park (151 State Street) in Batavia, NY. 

The owner was a middle-aged male with a reddish beard and black glasses. The dog involved in the incident was described as a black and tan German Shepard with a harness that was running loose in the park.   

The health department would like to locate the dog as soon as possible to confirm that it is healthy. This would indicate that the rabies virus would not have been transmitted at the time of the bite. 

If you have information about the location of the dog and its owner, please contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555.

Photos: Albino squirrel in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
albino squirrel

Frank Capuano shared these photos he took of an albino squirrel who is a regular visitor to his yard in Batavia, sharing corn with his friends.

albino squirrel

Mockingbird a sanctuary for all creatures, take a tour at festival Oct. 7

By Joanne Beck
Barnaby and Anne
Jonell Chudyk, with Gilbert, and Jon Tedd, with Anne, co-founders of Mockingbird Farm Sanctuary in Byron, are preparing for the nonprofit's second annual Fall Festival with hopes to raise enough money to shore up their hay needs for the winter season.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Barnaby's eyes -- with two dark thin slits across each eyeball -- cautiously observe and capture a stranger's attention as he approaches his front yard fence, while Anne has a way about her when she sidles up to a person and nudges her neck ever so gently against you. There’s only one thing to do but reach out and stroke her nose and neck in quiet sympathy for her current hip pain that causes her to limp.

Ferris and Forrest seem obliviously content to continue snacking while Cici may try to take a lick of a visitor’s arm, and there are so many more residents of Mockingbird Farm Sanctuary just waiting to say hello.

And they’ve all got names, personalities and individual voices if you just give them a moment, co-founder Jonell Chudyk says.

“I heavily believe in the power of the human-animal bond when it's done when it's mutually beneficial. I think humans can heal animals, and animals can heal humans as long as it's done in a mutually beneficial environment,” Chudyk said during an interview with The Batavian. “So my goal, obviously, was to create this place that's a sanctuary for both humans and nonhumans.”

It was quite apparent during a recent tour of the Upper Holley Road farm that Chudyk has given the 52 animals — 19 species in all — many moments since the farm’s founding with Jon Tedd in 2015. 

From Barnaby, a brown goat, to Anne, a miniature donkey once used for a traveling petting zoo and who got caught in a hoarding situation with fellow donkey Gilbert, all of the animals have been rescues or turn-ins that are now living a much healthier, safer and happier life. 

There’s a story for every animal, including the pot-bellied pigs that were purchased by people thinking they’d be a cute, petite pet for the house, until the realization that it was a pig that was going to grow in girth and poundage. 

And River, the now three-year-old black-and-white cow who was found running down a Rochester street as a three-day-old calf with its umbilical cord still attached. Nobody claimed the poor confused baby, and it eventually found refuge at Mockingbird. 

Or those Eastertime gifts that might get tucked into a child’s basket along with the chocolate bunny rabbits. 

“We’ve gotten 245 requests for surrenders of roosters from people who got chicks and then couldn’t keep them or didn’t want them when they got older,” she said. 

Lucy, a mom goat, and her baby, Ruby, were part of a breeding operation used for ritualistic slaughter out of state. They came to the farm quite sick, requiring extensive medical treatment and Tedd and Chudyk donning tyvek suits just to treat them.

Some of the animals have stayed inside with Chudyk until they were recovered enough to go back into the barn.

Cici the cow became a big fundraising effort, with the community rallying around to raise $14,000 to save her from multiple diseases after a stay at Cornell University.

Why farm animals, and why spend so much money on them? Well, why not farm animals, Chudyk counters.

“I’ve been around horses for 26 years. And they were sort of my happiness and therapy growing up. So I knew I always wanted to do something with animals,” she said. “And for as long as I can remember, I've been rescuing animals like baby squirrels and just involved with, I guess I would say, the welfare of animals for as long as I can remember.” 

She met Tedd through a mutual friend who was in a band with him, and they discovered they shared the same dream to operate a sanctuary like this. The dream came true in 2015 when Chudyk moved there and bought the place. Mockingbird became an official 501(c)(3) two years later. 

She believes that one animal is as important as any other, and learning about all species has allowed her to understand that they all really do have their own niche.

Just like their cats, dogs and smaller animals that reside inside their home on the farm, all of them have their rightful place and a voice that if you stop and listen, you’ll hear it, she said. 

Hart, the large green-eyed Maine coon cat that appeared on their property years ago and never left, has nuzzled right into the mix — amazingly unfazed by the ducks and chickens.

Chudyk and her family, husband Joseph and daughter Audrey, have adopted this way of life quite naturally, though it's not easy. The sanctuary is completely run on a volunteer and donation basis, with no grant or government assistance, she said. 

The property includes a 6,000-square-foot barn, circa 1800s, and five out-buildings on 10 acres of land. There's a board of directors and some 16 volunteers who work according to their own schedules.

There is a subscription service, Patreon, and her job as a licensed therapist that helps to support the organization, Chudyk said, plus sponsorships of animals, donations, and events. 

One of the farm’s big events will be the second annual Fall Festival, set for 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 7 at 5978 Upper Holley Road, Byron. This year’s goal is to raise $15,000, which would buy hay for this winter season. There’s no formal admission, with a suggested donation of $10, which includes a self-guided tour of the farm and availability to meet its residents. 

There will also be at least a dozen vendors with food and crafts for sale, including Grass Fed Rochester, New Ethic Pizzeria & Cafe,  and Isotope Ice Cream and Desserts. Other activities will include games, face painting, temporary tattoos, live music, a pumpkin patch and raffles.

Vendors and sponsorships are still being accepted for the festival, with a variety of online and in-person promotional perks for sponsors. Volunteers and donations are always needed and welcomed, she said. 

It takes $6,000 a month to care for the animals, and untold hours of cleaning, scrubbing, and filling bowls and buckets with food and water, clearing out their beds of poop, providing for their medical and personal needs, and, of course, giving a good ear, nose or back rub for those that have come to trust it.

Chudyk bakes cookies with CBD so that some of the treatments are more palatable, as many of the animals have joint issues, osteoarthritis, or other injuries and ailments from their prior journeys. 

Again, why go to such time, energy and expense for farm animals?

“You can care about humans and animals at the same time. And if folks are compelled to donate, awesome, if not, they don't have to," she said. "So we always make it a point where like, personally, I would pay the bills, you know, I would never expect the public to, if we take on an animal with expenses like that, we don't expect the public to just fund it. If we can't get that support, we would never put an animal in a situation where we wouldn't be able to afford it personally.

“But the thing is, don't they deserve voices? You know, we are essentially the voices for the voiceless. And it's difficult to see so much support for companion animals when nobody would bat an eye at $14,000 to have colic surgery for a horse, but to save a calf, that would be controversial," she said. 

"We just don't see it that way. And that's okay if other people don’t.”

For more information, go to

Brown goat
Photo by Joanne Beck
Ducks at mockingbird
Duck, duck, duck, 10 ducks in all, and goose Peach, in back, which was rescued from a hoarding situation.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Feeding goats at farm
Ferris and Forrest
Photo by Joanne Beck
Pigs at farm
Gordy, Teddy and Neko, in the back, enjoy some occasional nose and belly rubs.
Photo by Joanne Beck


White duck with Jonell
Jonell Chudyk gives Peach a hug in front of a field where all of the fencing was installed by volunteer labor. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Former owners of abandoned pit bulls admit to animal cruelty

By Howard B. Owens


"Brad Pitt" can finally move into a new forever home after his former owners accepted plea deals in County Court today that include them surrendering ownership of the dog, who was found abandoned and feces-covered in an apartment in May.

"Brad Pitt" is the name given to the male pit bull after he was brought into the shelter. His female companion was in such poor health after being abandoned in Apt. 60, 337 Bank St., Batavia, that she had to be euthanized.

The two dogs had apparently been bred and then left in cages without food in the apartment by  Andrew A. Searight, 35, and Jerrtonia A. Scarbrough, 24.  By the time they were discovered, they were both near death.

Under terms of the plea agreement offered by District Attorney Kevin Finnell, Searight and Scarbrough entered guilty pleas to two counts of cruelty to animals under Ag and Markets Law in exchange for a one-year term of interim probation.  They must abide by all the terms of probation and perform 150 hours of community service.

If they successfully complete the program, they can return to court in December and plead guilty to misdemeanor charges, at which time they can be sentenced again to either a term of probation or up to a year in jail on each charge.

Legally, they cannot be prevented from ever owning animals again, but under the terms of the agreement, they will not be allowed to own animals while under the court's supervision.

Finnell said he thought Searight should be required to serve his community service in an animal shelter so that he might better understand the trauma to animals when they're mistreated, but he said he understood that shelters might be reluctant to take him on as a volunteer given his conviction.  

Judge Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini concurred but said whatever community service Searight takes on, he is to inform her and get her approval before proceeding.

She said she personally wanted to closely monitor his probation and community service.

Searight and Scarbrough came into court together with an infant in a carrier.  They now live in Niagara County, and their terms of probation will be supervised by Niagara County's probation department, but their community service will be monitored by Genesee Justice.

Searight admitted in court that he abandoned the dogs and failed to provide proper sustenance and care, leading to the death of one of the dogs.  He agreed to pay restitution for the medical care and shelter of the male dog.

Photo: File photo of "Brad Pitt" by Howard Owens.

Warrant issued for woman accused of letting dog OD after she fails to appear in court

By Howard B. Owens

A Batavia woman accused of allowing her dog, Oddey, access to narcotics, leading to emergency veterinarian treatment for overdoses three times, was a no-show in City Court on Thursday afternoon.

Cassandra Elmore may be in the hospital, acording to a friend who called court about four hours before Elmore's case was to be called, but City Court Judge Thomas Burns had no proof that the claim was true, so he issued a warrant for her arrest.

Elmore's court time was at 1:30 p.m., and there were several other cases then as well. Burns finally called her case at 2:40 p.m., and she was not in court. Her friend was informed that the court would require proof of Elmore's admission to a hospital -- a call an email or a fax from the hospital.  The court received no proof of the claim prior to her case being called.

According to police reports, Elmore showed up at veterinarian offices on May 21, May 25, and June 21 with Oddey unconscious.  

Investigators believe Oddey consumed cocaine on two of those occasions and either cocaine or another narcotic on the third.

Elmore, 30, a resident of River Street, Batavia, faces three counts of injuring an animal under New York Ag and Markets Law Section 353.


Farm animal registry might be too time-consuming for city officials

By Joanne Beck


A suggestion from City Planning and Development Committee members may have seemed like a good idea for better controlling farm animals, but it’s on a proposed chopping block for City Council’s Monday meeting.

The planning committee was tasked last month to review city code for the keeping of farm animals within city property and make some recommendations for how to deal with specific issues on a city-wide scale.

Neighbor complaints about goats running loose on Burke Drive were, in large part, what drove council to take another look at the animal ordinance. The group wanted the planning committee also to review it since committee members -- including Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall -- were more versed with city code details.

The committee recommended a limit of six chickens on any one property, and implementing a system — to create a paper trail and more tracking — to document what types of animal species, how many, and where they are located, for city residents.

It seemed like a good idea, and one that would let city officials know who had what at their properties, committee members had agreed.

However, after reviewing the recommendations with city staff and the attorney, “we respectfully disagree with the addition of section E,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said in a memo to council.

“The intent of the new law was to restrict animal and fowl in the city and provide code enforcement clear and concise guidelines for citing violations,” Tabelski said. “The city does not have the staff or resources to create an animal registry, to tag, and track pre-existing animals. Therefore, and with respect to the PDC’s deliberation, I recommend that the City Council strike section E from the proposed code revision.”

If approved by council, the code revisions will revert back to City Council for consideration and to set a public heading to receive public feedback before considering a local law adoption.

That public hearing is to be set for 7 p.m. Sept. 12. Council's conference session is at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers, City Hall.

File photo of Jill Turner of Batavia with some of her goats at a summer event. Neighbors have complained about the goats getting loose, and the smell of goats and chickens, prompting a City Council review of a farm animal ordinance in the city code. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Farm animals occupy City Council chambers -- via discussion, that is

By Joanne Beck

Chickens in your backyard. Goats in the front. And donkeys? Who knows where they are.

Pretty much every living creature made it into City Council’s discussion about a restriction on certain animals and fowl during the group’s Monday meeting.

A proposed local law stems from a council meeting in January, and a request to research potential restrictions on animals and fowl in the city. Apparently some types of these creatures — chickens and goats in particular — have raised a bit of a ruckus in their neighborhoods.

“One of the issues that recently came up was, one of our neighbors has goats … and they're literally running around our neighborhood. They’ve been able to escape a number of times and might go across the street,” Councilman John Canale said during the meeting at City Hall. “Now, any animal is capable of charging someone at any time. But now we have horned animals running loose in the neighborhood. Animal control said ‘my hands are tied, there’s nothing I can do.’  A number of my neighbors are very concerned about their safety … we could have some neighbors that might possibly get hurt. That was my concern. Now it becomes kind of a safety issue.”

He asked about a clause in the law requiring that animals are properly housed. That means the animals must be penned appropriately, do not accumulate feces, cause odor or live in an unsightly or unsafe condition, Council President Eugene Jankowski said. If goats are running loose, then they are not being properly housed, Jankowski said.

Some council members wondered why anyone wants to keep goats in the city anyway. Canale said that, for example, he knows a young girl who is in 4-H and raises animals including goats.

There are rules for dogs, but not for goats, Jankowski said. Although it might be easy to come up with a laundry list of restrictions for these situations, Jankowski didn’t want to see that happen.

“I’m not for making a plethora of codes for every little thing,” he said. “But, unfortunately, it might be something we have to do … if they start to encroach on other people’s property.”

As for the goat that got loose, the animal control officer did some quick thinking on his feet. He cornered the animal at the front porch, got ahold of it and brought it back to its rightful home over a fence.

As for donkeys, and other cloven-hoofed animals, equine or fowl, those are restricted from being kept within the city limits. City Manager Rachael Tabelski’s research reviewed other cities, including Geneva, Canandaigua, Jamestown, Elmira, and Lockport. All of those areas have code restrictions “on animals in a variety of forms,” her memo to council said.

“With help from the code enforcement office and the city attorney, attached are the proposed restrictions to animals for City Council to consider,” the memo stated, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, alpacas, ducks, turkeys, geese, feral cats, donkeys, ponies, mules and any other farm or wild animal within city limits.

Exceptions would be chickens in appropriate housing, transporting animals to and from race tracks, special events with an approved event application, and animals in transit through the city.

Council agreed to pass the law on to the City Planning Board for further discussion. Council members also hope that the public will provide feedback about the issue of atypical city occupants — primarily farm animals — living right next door.

“That’s what the planning board is for,” Jankowski said. “I think most people will see this as reasonable. I think it’s great that we have these healthy discussions.”

Photo: Squirrel saved from string around his neck is now quite neighborly

By Howard B. Owens


This little guy is a resident of Colonial Boulevard in Batavia.  One of his two-legged neighbors found him with a string around his neck so she removed it and nursed him back to health.  He's a friendly little tyke, even amenable to petting and hanging out with other neighbors.

Photo by Lisa Ace.

Photos: Fox den in Alexander

By Howard B. Owens


Christine Loranty shared these photos of a fox den in a gravel pit near her house in Alexander.



Duke ran after a deer and now he's missing

By Howard B. Owens


Duke saw a deer near his home in Byron and decided to give chase. Owner Chriss DeValder hasn't seen her boy since.

"I just don't know what to do without him," she said.

She said he may have been spotted in Oakfield.

He's also not good with other dogs, she said.

She asks that people call or text if they see him, or "call out Duke."  She can be reached at (585) 409-9325.

Person claims to be trapped in bathroom by aggressive dogs at residence, owner can't be reached

By Howard B. Owens

A caller at a residence on Wood Street, Batavia, reports being trapped in a bathroom by two large, very aggressive dogs.

The caller told dispatchers that the owner works at a business in the City of Batavia but when dispatchers attempted to call that chain store,  a person at the store claims nobody that name works at that business.

Law enforcement is dispatched.

Local dog trainer completes certification to help identify underlying reasons for unexpected aggression

By Joanne Beck


Tori Ganino isn’t afraid to admit that self-assertion is her thing.

At least when it comes to dogs. That canine characteristic of extreme self-assertion — and unwanted aggressiveness — has fueled her career and prompted the 35-year-old to continue her education.

She has recently obtained certification as a Dynamic Dog Practitioner. 

“My passion is aggression. We need to know what’s going on internally,” she said during an interview Friday.“ This certification is more helping out and spotting behavior in dogs. I can see myself applying this to the dogs I work with and to my own dog. I just want to keep learning.”

Ganino is not new to embracing knowledge when it comes to working with dogs, and the canine behavior specialist eagerly added dynamic dog practitioner to her resume. Never heard of such a thing? That’s because the rigorous four-month course is only available in the United Kingdom. Other people have enrolled in the course but Ganino said that she is the only one in the U.S. to successfully complete it. 

While dynamic dog practitioner may seem like an embellished title, it makes sense as Ganino explains it. Say your dog Rufus is a bit more surly than usual, and he has been barking at visitors, and — especially uncharacteristic of Rufus — nipped at one of them. You might think he is just being a bad boy, however, there very well might be underlying issues at play. 

“Dogs are so extremely stoic; they hide things so very well,” Ganino said at her Elba residence. 

Beneath that quiet strength might be hip pain, an achy spine or pulled muscle, she said. By thoroughly assessing the dog, she will be able to pinpoint likely sources of the pain that are causing and coming out as aggressive behavior. Contrary to popular belief that older dogs would be more prone to this occurrence, Ganino said that she has seen it in younger dogs more often. They may be working dogs that herd animals or train for agility courses, or simply playful dogs that throw their little bodies out of whack scampering on slippery floors, she said.

An online dictionary defines dynamic as “a process or system characterized by constant change, activity, or progress; relating to forces producing motion.” Just like humans often do, dogs may overcompensate an injury in one area by overusing the other, Ganino said. That can in turn create a lot of pain and/or discomfort within the dog's body, she said.

The course taught her to understand what normal movement is for the dog so that she can determine what is abnormal movement. That involves taking a history of how the dog moves, what it was like before becoming more aggressive and how it behaves now, such as biting, barking or lunging at people. 

Ganino had owned and operated Calling All Dogs daycare until the dreadful Covid-19 struck. She made the difficult decision to close in March 2020, which ended up opening up a window.

“It has given me the opportunity to do this intense four-month course,” she said. “I had to present six case studies.  There’s not a similar program in the world.”

The programme (spelled properly in England) teaches how to spot potential pain and discomfort in dogs “using specific, measurable and professional techniques from the ground up, whilst giving you an in-depth knowledge of the canine body,” the course website,, states. 

“There are so many excellent dog training and behaviour courses out there that give you the latest up to date science based techniques to make you become an expert in your chosen field,” it states. “Despite all of them teaching you about A, B, C's they are ALL missing one vital component that is key to understanding most problem dog behaviours.”

Only 14 students are admitted at a time, and they are forewarned that the course is intensive with a blueprint for how to use the material, conduct an assessment and present the findings to the client’s veterinarian. This last piece is key to a fully implemented plan, Ganino said. She will perform a two-hour assessment of the troubled canine to evaluate its activities, movement, walking, running, standing and sitting, and the overall behavior of the dog, she said. 

The finished product includes a report, video and recommended plan of action that may include prescription meds, X-rays, physical therapy and exercises. That will go to the client, behavior consultant and vet. The vet will be the one to recommend a more specific route, such as the type of medical tests or prescriptions to implement for the dog's treatment.

“There’s a lot going on when it comes to behavior and aggression; it’s not just on the outside, but a lot going on inside. Unless you’re trained, you don’t see it,” Ganino said. “We can be that team to work through these problems.”

For more information, or to find out if your dog could benefit from Ganino’s expertise, go to, and click on Schedule a Free Consultation.

Photo by Gina Sierra,

Photo: Molly viewed through a soap bubble

By Howard B. Owens


Addie Tonzi, who is 13 years old and from Le Roy, took this photo of her grandparent's dog Molly through a soap bubble.

Submitted by her grandfather John Huenemoerder, of Pavilion.

Kitten was hung up in motor of sedan outside Petco, appears not to be injured

By Billie Owens

A kitten was reportedly briefly caught in the motor of a black sedan parked outside Petco off Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. "It's doesn't appear to be injured," relays the dispatcher.

An officer was responding but the kitten has been freed and assistance is no longer needed. The sedan is hitched to a black trailer.

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