BUFFALO, NY- Responding to neighbor complaints, Buffalo Animal Control officers, with assistance from the Erie County SPCA, Thursday seized 30 Pomeranian dogs from a Fillmore Avenue home in Buffalo.
Spokesperson Gina Browning said the dogs were found living in extremely unsanitary conditions and that the dogs' owner, 61-year-old Ronald Geska will face animal cruelty charges in court on March 8.
SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator Aaron Kandefer said there was urine and feces everywhere. "There wasn't a spot you could walk without stepping in it."
Kandefer said it appeared the dogs were watered and fed and most appeared healthy.
The Poms were taken to the organization's Tonawanda shelter for evaluation. Browning said Geska refused to surrender the dogs, so some will be placed in foster care and others will remain in the SPCA's infimary until a judge decides on a permanent home.
Kandefer said it appears to be a classic case of animal hoarding. "I'm sure he loves them. He was providing food and water for them but that's pretty much where it stopped."
This case comes on the heels of 500 cats being rescued from the Wyoming County SPCA last week. Officials said the director's behavior is also consistent with hoarding. Then there is the case of Beth Hoskins whose 73 horses, 53 cats and 4 dogs were seized from her Town of Aurora farm in 2010; another case of what officials call animal hoarding.
Erie County SPCA spokesperson Gina Browning said people can have large numbers of animals and not be considered hoarders if they take care of them. "Alot of people define a hoarder by looking at the quantity of animals when it's actually a quality of life sort of thing," Browning said.
But local municipalities do try to limit the number of dogs per household. The city of Buffalo allows three dogs on the entire premises for a single or double-family home, or 1 dog for a multiple-family dwelling. In Niagara Falls, households can have no more than three animals, two of which may be dogs. In Orchard Park, homes can't have more than three dogs unless they obtain a Multiple Dog Housing permit for $50. In the Town of Tonawnda and Village of Kenmore the maximum number of dogs allowed is two.
Browning said the problem is, there is no legislation concerning cats. "Right now someone can have 100 cats and if they're not being deprived veterinary care they can have as many cats as they want. "
The increasing local and national spotlight is drawing some much needed attention on hoarding, said Browning. "Now we're seeing TV shows. People are watching TV shows on Animal Planet. I think the level of education is increasing so people are realizing this isn't just the crazy cat lady down the street. There may be a real mental health issue and there's a real public health issue here. I need to do something about it."
Browning said Tufts University is doing increased researched on hoarding and has found for certain hoarders it may be best to leave a couple animals with them because they're not feeling that intense desire to fill their appetite again. But Browning said every situation is different.