Story and photos by Susan Mikula Campbell
Some of the 64 Pomeranians rescued from squalid conditions in Lockport over the weekend started leaving the SPCA of Niagara for new homes Wednesday.
"They are finding their forever homes," said Andrew Bell, SPCA executive director, noting that the phone continues to ring at the facility with people interested in adopting the dogs.
The waiting list, with more than 100 names of potential Pom owners, is now closed, but Bell reminds everyone, "We do have other dogs (and cats) available."
Plus, the SPCA is still accepting monetary donations at its website at www.niagaraspca.org or by mail at P.O. Box 686, North Tonawanda, N.Y. 14150. Donations of puppy food, puppy pads and other supplies can be dropped off at the shelter located at 2100 Lockport Road, Wheatfield.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Ellouise Magrum, 50, of the Town of Lockport, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of cruelty to animals, all misdemeanor charges. Magrum has a return court date on Feb. 21. She has given up her ownership of the dogs.
Her arrest stems from a joint investigation by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Town of Lockport dog warden and the SPCA.
The 64 dogs were seized from Magrum's Town of Lockport residence on Feb. 2 after the Niagara County Sheriff's officer investigating a juvenile complaint brought in Town of Lockport dog control officer Barry Kobrin.
The dogs were caged in all but two rooms of the house and the smell from the dirty cages was overwhelming, said Kobrin.
"The living conditions for the dogs was extremely harsh," said Kobrin, adding that as he investigated, "I was surprised there was no illness in the family."
On Tuesday, Kobrin was checking on his rescues at the SPCA amidst a cacophony of barking Poms of a variety of colors and ages. He paused to cuddle a particularly energetic pup that had pogoed its way out of a puppy playpen and commented, "You should have seen them when they were brought in."
The dogs were now clean and fluffy thanks to an SPCA production line of some 20 volunteers who groomed the animals and saw that they had their vaccinations from SPCA veterinarians.
Considering the conditions in which they were found, the dogs were sociable and loved attention. Kobrin said he was nipped only once during the transfer of the dogs from Lockport to the SPCA.
The Poms will continue to go to new homes this week as they are spayed and neutered (an SPCA requirement). However, some will remain behind either because they are too young or need medical treatment, Bell said.
The community has given the SPCA a tremendous amount of support in caring for the animals, he said, noting that donations of assistance still are coming in.
"The community now recognizes we are doing a good job and trusts us to do the right thing," he said, adding that the scale of this particular case - 64 dogs in one house - is attracting a lot of attention.