PLATTSBURGH — City Police are trying to round up two dozen puppies that appear to be victims in a abandonment scheme.
“When you see how tiny and defenseless these puppies are it definitely pulls on the old heartstrings,” City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said.
“But this is a criminal case and has to be handled as such.”
The case involves the husband of a pet-store owner who was charged with animal cruelty last month. The plan apparently was to get rid of the dogs, many of which were sick, to avoid costly veterinary bills, according to City Police.
City Police were called last Saturday morning to Northern Puppies pet store at 11 Plattsburgh Plaza to investigate a report that the store had been burglarized.
When an employee arrived for work, she had found the back door forced open, police said. Money had been stolen from the cash register, and shelving units had been knocked over. Also, 24 puppies between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months were missing.
She called police.
Later Saturday night, police learned that a family living near Strackville Road in Peasleeville had found a German shepherd puppy in the woods. A few hours later, members of that family and friends went searching in the same general area and found another German shepherd puppy.
City Police said in a news release that they were able to identify the dogs as those that had been reported stolen from Northern Puppies.
On Saturday night and Sunday, police used all-terrain vehicles and searched the woods in Saranac, Peasleeville and Dannemora. They found another puppy in the woods near Collins and Pup Hill roads.
Three more of the Northern Puppies dogs were found by residents in the area and were turned in to a local veterinarian and shelter.
City Police say Michael Staley, 36, of Plattsburgh admitted to them that he faked the burglary and stole the dogs. He is married to Tammy Staley, who is the licensed owner of Northern Puppies pet store.
Mrs. Staley, 33, was charged July 10 with 20 counts of animal cruelty in connection with the alleged mistreatment of kittens in the store. A number of animals were found in cages too small for them and covered in feces and urine, police said at the time.
There were 36 puppies in the store then, and Mrs. Staley opted to keep them. But she was not allowed to sell them, pending the result of a hearing in her case. She could sell non-companion animals, such as birds, lizards and snakes.
Police said Mr. Staley told them that he had abandoned the puppies in numerous wooded locations around Clinton County. He told them he dumped the animals to avoid large veterinarian bills because the dogs were sick, City Police said in a release.
The Press-Republican was not able to contact the Staleys for comment.
Police continued searching Sunday evening and found six more puppies in the area of Macomb State Park in Peru.
“The puppies that were found at Macomb State Park were on a road so obscure,” Racicot told the Press-Republican. “We found them all huddled together, curled up in little balls.”
Another puppy was found in Dannemora.
As of Monday evening, 13 of the 24 puppies have been recovered. They are either staying with foster families or at Eagle’s Nest Veterinary Clinic.
PUBLIC HELP SOUGHT
Police are asking the public for help in locating the rest of the puppies.
Dogs may be in Macomb State Park and surroundings forests and the following roads in the Plattsburgh, Saranac and Redford areas: Norrisville, Davis Pond, Burnt Hill, Strackville, Collins, Cane, Pup Hill, Maggy, Soper, Ore Bed and Kent Falls.
If any dogs are found, police are asking the public to call them at 563-3411.
SOME DOGS SICK
Some of the puppies may be very sick, Racicot said. He said the dogs have been exposed to coccidia, ringworm and parvovirus.
The diseases are contagious illnesses to other animals, and dogs can also pass the fungal ringworm infection to people.
Racicot said police are continuing the investigation and continuing to search for the missing puppies. He said Mr. Staley will face criminal charges.
“He will be charged. Right now, we are concentrating on finding the rest of these puppies,” the chief said.
Mayor Donald Kasprzak was outraged by the case.
“I find this appalling,” the mayor said. “He (Staley) should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest.”
Email Joe LoTemplio:email@example.com