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Elmore SPCA readying to adopt out A Canine Gem dogs

Mar. 16—PLATTSBURGH — In the coming days, Elmore SPCA will be making several of the 48 dogs that were seized from the Beekmantown animal rescue, A Canine Gem, last month available for adoption.

Elmore SPCA's Executive Director Becki Moss-Patnode said they will be uploading pictures of adoptable dogs to their Petfinder page as soon as they become available.

Those interested in adopting will be able to apply at: elmorespca.org.

"As applications begin to flow in, we will do our best to process them in the order that they come in," Moss-Patnode said at a news conference at the Clinton County Sheriff's Office Friday.

"But we do expect this to be a lengthy process so please be patient with us while we work through those applications."

HEALTH CONDITIONS

Since they were rescued Feb. 26, the dogs have been housed at the Clinton County Jail in a cell pod that is not being used for inmates, because Elmore SPCA did not have enough space at their shelter in Peru.

At A Canine Gem, located at 30 Ashley Road in Beekmantown, many of the dogs were reportedly found malnourished and crammed into small cages with bare cement floors, causing many to have injuries and issues to their paws.

According to the veterinarian evaluation forms included in the Beekmantown Justice Court documents, upon arrival, the condition of each dog varied and health issues ranged from emaciation, respiratory infections, hair loss, wounds, eye infections, umbilical hernia, ear mites, heartworm symptoms and heart murmurs to overgrown nails, dehydration, dermatitis, dental problems, matted coats, smelling of urine and happy tail.

The total number of dogs seized was also originally 49 but one, Oscar, had to be euthanized due to an apparent heartworm ailment that he was suffering with.

Given the range of these health conditions, Elmore SPCA staff have been working overtime the past few weeks to properly care for the dogs, all of which have gained a collective 275 pounds and counting while under their care, Clinton County Sheriff David Favro boasted.

"You can tell by looking at them: the energy, the excitement, they're playing in the play yards, they're having a really good time ... it's refreshing to see them starting to revive their ways once again," he said.

ADOPTION PROCESS

Because many of the dogs are still dealing with and being treated for continuing health issues, not all of the 48 dogs will be available for adoption right away.

Moss-Patnode said this process will ensure they are all cleared medically before going to their new homes.

"Elmore SPCA's goal has been, and will always be, to place the animals in our care in the right home, not just a home and we're very proud of the highest standards that we've set," she said.

"While we have seen no major behavior issues with these dogs right now, they are in a very unusual living situation and we are not seeing the dogs' true personalities. Although, some of them are starting to show and they are quite the characters. There is the potential that some of these dogs may have ongoing health issues and behavior issues.

"So we're looking for owners who are willing to make a commitment to provide the time and patience needed to work through these potential issues. Please keep this in mind when deciding to apply for a particular dog."

Due to the unique and secure location of the dogs, potential adopters will not be allowed to come to the jail for a meet and greet.

Moss-Patnode said a different location for that will be determined when an appointment is scheduled.

VETTING PROCESS

She said anyone looking to adopt a dog will also have to undergo a strict vetting process — like they would in the case of any adoption — prior to being approved.

The process includes taking a look at the adopter's home and seeing if they have kids or cats. Unfortunately, because of the situation they've been in, staff have not been able to determine what environment the dogs would be best in, Moss-Patnode said.

"We haven't been able to see, you know, are they good with cats? Are they good with kids? So we're gonna do our best to match the right dog to the right home," she said.

"So we'll take a look at your application. We'll reach out to your landlord if you have one. We will also reach out to a minimum of two references. Those references need to be people who do not live in the same household as you and we will reach out to your veterinarian. If this is a first time pet, we do look to make sure that you have at least a veterinarian in mind that you're looking to use in the future."

This vetting process will be the same regardless of who applies, Moss-Patnode said. Currently, both SPCA and sheriff's office staff have "spoken for quite a few" of the dogs and put in an application, Favro said.

"So hopefully that'll ease the burden fairly quickly with some of them," he said.

And while it would be ideal if they get adopted sooner rather than later, finding a good home will be the biggest priority.

"They're not going to be kicked out," Favro said.

"The dogs will be staying until they get good homes or until the SPCA is proper care for them. They've been through enough. The transition was really challenging that day that we seized them and brought them to this facility. To continually move them from one spot to another without having a happy home wouldn't be the right thing to do. So our efforts are going to really be focused on doing a once and done transition: when they leave here, they go to a loving, caring family."

DOGS SURRENDERED

The adoption process was able to start after A Canine Gem operator, Hilary A. Davis, 57, formally agreed in Beekmantown Justice Court to surrender the animals into the custody and care of Elmore SPCA Tuesday.

Davis has been charged with four counts of second-degree forgery, class D felonies, two counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument, also class D felonies, and 48 counts of torturing or injuring animals/failure to provide sustenance, class A misdemeanors.

Davis had said her decision to surrender the dogs was made "in good faith."

Favro said that court appearance was scheduled to be a hearing for Davis to post a bond, which would assist with the cost of care for the animals "in the hope of future recovery."

According to court documents, the sheriff's office estimated the cost of care to be $72,956.86 for 30 days.

Davis, however, decided not to post a bond and instead turn the dogs over into the care of the Elmore SPCA.

Favro said now, every dog in their possession is up to date on all of their vaccinations, including rabies.

"They are all very healthy. They are all looking really well. There's a couple of them that do have some health issues still, they are under control," he said.

"It's going to take some continued maintenance to get them back to perfect health, but there's none, from my understanding, that are in jeopardy or considered in very critical condition."

Davis is due back in court for her criminal proceedings April 3 at 5 p.m.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Moss-Patnode said the SPCA is not looking for donations of any items currently. However, she said if the community wants to help, they can make monetary donations to help with the continued medical costs of the dogs.

Favro thanked the community for their outpouring of love and compassion to the dogs since Feb. 26.

"It's been almost three weeks that we've been in this endeavor, and it's hard to believe that we started with the most horrific story you could imagine," he said.

"There were many tears shed, there were many emotions, some anger, some frustration, a lot of grief. and now we're at the point now we're seeing an awful lot of smiles. We're seeing some happiness because the right thing has happened because of teamwork, because of partnership and because of a wonderful community."

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton