By SUZANNE MOORE, News Editor
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Despite widespread rumors, no more lost puppies were turned in to Plattsburgh City Police on Saturday, Sunday or as of Monday night.
Five pups remained missing among a total 24 police say Michael Staley collected from the Plattsburgh pet shop owned by his wife, Tammy Staley, after he faked a burglary there and dropped them off at various points around the area on Friday, Aug. 2.
He pleaded not guilty to 24 counts of animal abandonment, but police say he told them he dumped the dogs to avoid veterinarian bills.
Chief Desmond Racicot said his department has tracked down leads and sorted through scuttlebutt to determine whether anyone who found a puppy failed to report it to police.
“We have no solid information that anyone is holding a dog,” he said.
He hated to throw cold water on stories circulating that four of the final five dogs had been turned in — word of which circulated in part on Facebook — but that rumor was absolutely untrue.
“I think the comments are wishful thinking and misinformation,” he said.
But absolutely true on Monday afternoon was that 18 of the 19 rescued puppies had been adopted.
Police were planning to perform a site visit for the remaining one on Tuesday.
“An overwhelming” number of applications piled in to City Police, Racicot said, so of course there were not enough pups to go around.
“That’s not saying the other people who put in applications aren’t great people,” the chief said.
And the department put the animals’ interests first in deciding who was best suited for them.
Some of those who found dogs were reunited with them as their new family, he said.
SEARCH SITES PINPOINTED
The chief urged anyone who might have one of the remaining puppies to let police know.
“They could potentially be looking at some type of offense,” he said, “but our issue here is not to make cases with these people but to make sure there’s a safe environment for the dogs.”
Still missing are two Chorkie puppies abandoned at the end of Kent Falls Road in Saranac; two Chihuahuas left in the New York State Electric & Gas parking area off Soper Road; and a Labrador retriever mix dumped at the intersection of Collins and Strackville roads in Schuyler Falls.
Crime-scene tape is tied around blue reflective markers at those location to aid volunteer searchers.
And that’s another truth, Racicot said — “People are so caring.
The search began with Racicot, Patrolman Carmen Rotella and some family members, and, the chief said, “within hours, we had a troop of people; within a day, we had an army.”
People have put together organized searches, left food out for the puppies.
One person posted a message on the Puppy Search site about surrounding a food dish with baby powder in hopes of capturing puppy prints to show whether any of the lost dogs had been there.
“I haven’t ever had a case where there was so much good karma,” Racicot said.
“It would be amazing to find these last five.
“I’m not going to give up yet; we’re going to keep looking every day — if I can say anything we learned from the community, it’s not to give up.”
Reach City Police to report a found dog or a tip about one at 563-3411; bring pups to the station at 45 Pine St.
Email Suzanne Moore:firstname.lastname@example.org