Dogs recovering as owner faces animal abuse charges

Mar. 14—Socks, an older female pit bull mix, enjoyed the sunshine Thursday, March 14 at the Susquehanna SPCA, chasing toys tossed by licensed veterinary technician Allison Hungerford in an outdoor enclosure.

Socks and three other older adult dogs — a female golden retriever mix named Muffin and two Australian cattle dogs, a male named Bluey and a female named Bingo — are on the road to recovery at the SVSPCA since law enforcement officers seized them nearly a month ago from a woman arrested Wednesday, March 13 on multiple animal abuse charges.

Ashley H. Williams, 35, of Laurens, has been charged with four counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals, nine counts of misdemeanor abandonment of animals and nine counts of misdemeanor failure to provide sustenance to animals.

Additional charges are pending. Williams is slated to be appear in Laurens Town Court.

Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin said Thursday that Williams surrendered the dogs Wednesday at her arraignment, meaning the SVSPCA can begin the procedure to prepare the dogs for adoption.

Stacie Haynes, SVSPCA executive director, said Thursday that all four were "lovely dogs and highly adoptable."

Hungerford, also the communications coordinator, said that the SVSPCA kennels are open to the public, and some of the people who have walked through recently have expressed interest in adopting the rescued dogs.

"As soon as we get the official confirmation, then they'll be available," Hungerford said. "They get spayed and neutered before the adoptions are finalized. We do a pending spay neuter, where they can go home and be with their family until we can get them in for surgery sometimes."

The four dogs were in various states of emaciation when they were taken in February from a trailer in Laurens by Otsego County sheriff's deputies.

According to a statement from the sheriff's office, deputies had received reports of dead and emaciated dogs abandoned at a property in Laurens and initiated an investigation of the reported animal abuse.

On Feb. 19, deputies executed a search warrant obtained through the Laurens Town Court, which led to the discovery of five dead dogs, all of which were wrapped in blankets and placed in trash bags. Additionally, four living dogs in various states of emaciation were seized.

The live dogs were turned over to the SQSPCA for care and medical attention. The dead dogs were transported to Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine for necropsies. After the completion of the necropsies, it was determined the dogs had starved to death and were partially cannibalized by the living dogs.

The Laurens Town Court then granted an arrest warrant for Williams, according to the sheriff's office statement.

On Wednesday, deputies located Williams at a residence in the city of Oneonta.

Oneonta police officers and Otsego County probation officers responded and took Williams into custody. Williams was transferred from the Oneonta Police Department to the sheriff's office investigators, who transported her to the sheriff's office for processing.

Williams was processed and lodged in the Otsego County Correctional Facility to await centralized arraignment. Deputy sheriffs and investigators were assisted by the Oneonta Police Department, Otsego County Probation Department and the SVSPCA during the course of the investigation.