Newsletter Article:

NYSHA Takes Investigating Animal Cruelty Workshop to Utica

Instructor Dr. Beverly Blinn-Knapp with two attendees.

Instructor Dr. Beverly Blinn-Knapp with two attendees.

It was a freezing January night in Utica when a dog named Apollo was left tied to a picnic bench in a small park. When he was found the next morning, Apollo was partially frozen to the ground. Though rescuers tried to carefully remove him, he sustained injuries to his paws and other areas of frozen skin.

Lia Albo, Sue McDonough, Utica Mayor David Roefaro, and Ulster Co. Deputy Andrea Stene at the Utica workshop.

Lia Albo, Sue McDonough, Utica Mayor David Roefaro, and Ulster Co. Deputy Andrea Stene at the Utica workshop.

Utica police worked hard to solve the case, but they were unable to prove that the owner did this cruel deed, as there were no witnesses to the abandonment. Despite the outpouring of anger from area residents, all of whom wanted the owner punished, the police were only able to charge him with owning a non-licensed dog with out-of-date shots. Fortunately, the owner agreed to surrender the dog. The lack of cruelty charges set off another public furor. As a result of this frustrating case, Mayor David Roefaro wrote to the Governor asking him to strengthen the animal cruelty laws so that abusers could be dealt with more easily.Aware of the Mayor´s interest and concern with animal cruelty, NYSHA contacted him to arrange an “Investigating Animal Cruelty” workshop with the Utica Police Department. The Mayor was delighted with NYSHA´s offer and encouraged us to contact the Utica Police Chief who was also interested in having a workshop there. The DA´s Office threw in its support and agreed to send a speaker to the event. The date was set for April 9, the Mayor´s Office sent out press releases, and we were up and running.

The workshop was held at the beautiful Hotel Utica, as it was one of the few places in the city that could accommodate the large number of attendees — 44 in all. There was a large showing from the Utica Police Department, as well as from the Oneida and Onondaga County Sheriff´s Departments, State Police, and other police departments as far away as Auburn ands Elmira. Other attendees included probation and parole officers, dog control officers, and representatives of area humane agencies.

Mayor Roefaro of Utica let the audience know that his office backed efforts to address animal cruelty in the area.

Mayor Roefaro made a surprise appearance as the afternoon workshops started and told the audience how important he felt the workshop was to his goal in bringing animal abusers to justice. He let the audience know that his office backed any efforts that were put forth to address animal cruelty in the area. Representatives of the shelters introduced themselves to the various police agencies and offered their cooperation with upcoming animal cases. Good contacts were made all around, and the attendees know they can call NYSHA with questions about any difficult cases they encounter. It was a great workshop with great evaluations, and the door is open for us to return for future workshops.


New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXVI, No.1, Spring/Summer 2011.