DURHAM, N.Y. —Dozens of dogs and a cat were removed from two properties in Durham Sunday, after the animals were found to be in bad condition.
According to authorities, 39 dogs and one cat were removed from two locations in Durham and taken to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society on Sunday. Some of the dogs were just days old, while others were full grown.
The Humane Society said dogs were severely dehydrated and the majority of them were underweight. The dogs in most critical condition are currently being examined by a veterinarian.
One of the properties where the dogs were seized was 596 Morrison Road. Authorities say the dogs were in cages which were covered in feces and urine. The only source of heat was a small electric plug-in heater for the house, according to the Greene County Sheriff's Office. Many of the dogs that were found were German Shepherd dogs.
Authorities say that information obtained from Morrison Road led investigators to 221 Hervey-Sunside Road. Deputies found a number of German Shepherd dogs in cages too small to allow the dogs to stand up in. They say the location was also covered in feces and there was no apparent food or water for the animals.
Ron Perez President Columbia Greene Humane Society said "Some of them have never been outside before, they have never been walked on a leash."
Following a search warrant execution in the both locations, Dawn Verdeschi, 43, was charged with failure to provide food and water. The Sheriff's Office said Verdeschi is the renter of the Morrison Road home and a co-owner of the Hervey-Sunside Road residence. Authorities say the dogs were left alone in this home without food or water.
Lt. Adam Brainard with the Greene County Sheriff's Office said the dogs "Were being kept in cages that were too small for them to stand up feces inside the residence inside the cages and it didn't appear as if there was any type of water or food being provided to the dogs."
Verdeschi eventually surrendered the dogs legally to the Humane Society. She was arraigned on her charge and remanded to Greene County Jail in lieu of $1,500 cash bail or $3,000 bond.
On Monday, some of the dogs was enjoying a toy and walking around at the Columbia-Greene County SPCA.
Perez says "The sanitary issue on that is as bad as you'll ever see it. As far as them being fed I don't think they were fed regularly and I think the underweight kind of indicates that."
The Sheriff's Office said Verdeschi was breeding and selling the dogs. Nicole Handel said she bought her German Shepherd from Verdeschi who she says took care of her dogs, trained them and loved them.
Nicole Handel said "She has the knowledge the skills; she just doesn't have the means, so I wish we could all get together."
All of the animals recovered from the locations are going to be made available for adoption in the coming weeks through Columbia-Greene SPCA.
"None of them have left the building," said Perez. "We have a lot that are adopted but are still here waiting medical examination."
Perez says more than 100 people have shown interest in taking home a dog, including Halina Synder.
"To think of them not being taken care of, and having such difficulty, I could offer one a home," said Snyder.
She's no stranger to adopting rescued German Shepherds. Her dog of 13 years helped her during her husband's passing.
Halina said "My husband died and she really helped me get through that hard portion of life."
Through moments many of wouldn't think twice about.
"But that's what they are there for, and they're happy to see you when you get home," explained Halina.
Not just anyone can adopt these dogs because there is a process. Those interested have to go online, fill out a pre-adoption form and ultimately be the right match for the dog.
"We want to make sure that the person and the animal are a right fit," said Perez.
If the fit isn't right for someone, that could be because some of these dogs have a higher calling to serve as Police K-9.
"As they start to get a little older they will test them, and if they are eligible for that, I think that some of them will probably go into service," explained Perez.
Authorities say they are still looking for a second subject identified as Christopher Cella, 55, of Durham. The Sheriff's Office said Cella is wanted for questioning related to these incidents. He allegedly co-owned the Hervey-Sunside Road home. According to authorities, Cella has ties to the Rockland County area and has an outstanding warrant from Rockland County Family Court.
Anyone with information on Cella's location is encouraged to contact Greene County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Unit at 518-943-3300.
Find out more about how you can help the animals here: http://cghs.org/