SPCA chief backs proposed Ulster County law limiting tethering of dogs

October 15, 2014

By Patricia Doxsey, Daily Freeman

KINGSTON >> Two people, including the head of the Ulster County SPCA, voiced their support Wednesday for a proposed local law that would set strict regulations on how and when dogs in Ulster County can be tethered outdoors.

At a public hearing before the Ulster County Legislature, Adam Saunders, the executive director of the SPCA, said the law will allow his agency to respond to daily complaints of dozens of dogs tethered every day across the county and force people to rethink the way they care for them.

“A law such as this would almost present a cultural shift,” Saunders said.

But, he warned, the law would come with some financial consequences for the privately funded nonprofit agency.

“The volume of cases that may be coming into the local courts may be very high,” he said.

He urged county officials to consider allocating some of the fine monies collected to agencies like the SPCA, that will be forced to take in dogs removed from their owners.

Saugerties resident Rebecca Thompson also urged legislators to enact the law, saying a neighbor kept as many as six dogs tied up outside for days, and the only thing law enforcement officials could do was cite him on a noise complaint.

The dogs, she said, are outside all the time. “The dogs never get walked, they never get played with, they never go in the house.

“It’s really quite sad,” said Thompson.

If adopted, the law would outlaw the use of choke or pinch collars on dogs that are tethered outdoors and would require that dog leads be at least 10 feet long, or five times the length of the dog, whichever is greater.

It would be illegal under the proposal to tether puppies under the age of six months outdoors, and all other dogs could be tethered for no more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period.

The law would prohibit dogs from being tethered outdoors if the temperature drops below 32 degrees or rises above 80 degrees, or in the event of thunderstorms, ice storms, snowstorms, high winds or any National Weather Service-issued weather alert or storm warning.

A proposed amendment to the law would exempt owners who tether their dogs for less than 15 minutes in public locations. If the law is approved in legislative committees, a public hearing on the amended law would have to be held before lawmakers can vote on it.

Ulster County SPCA see trio of animal cruelty cases resolved

October 7, 2014

By Diane Pineiro-Zucker, Daily Freeman

The executive director of the Ulster County SPCA is celebrating the end of what he described as “one of the most heart-wrenching animal cruelty cases in recent memory” in a recent post on the organization’s Facebook page.

Adam Saunders wrote Friday that the case involving an elderly Wawarsing woman and her daughter was “heart wrenching, not only for the sheer volume of animals, but for the human cost, a cost that frames a problem without any easy answers.”

In February, the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Helen Deschambeault, 86, and her daughter, Joan Radinoff, 61, with animal neglect after seizing 42 cats “out of a home saturated in fecal waste and urine, and mountains of human refuse,” Saunders wrote.

“The place was disgusting. Nobody should live there, people or animals,” Saunders said Tuesday.

The two woman faced similar charges in 2009.

Since the February seizure, Deschambeault and Radinoff had obtained another 12 cats, all of which were removed on Sept. 17, he said. The cats removed in September were in “OK shape” but all suffered from respiratory problems, “which was the result of living in that house,” according to Saunders.

Last week, the two women pleaded guilty to single counts of failure to provide sustenance and agreed to a conditional 12-month discharge under the condition that they will not live with or harbor any animals for one year, he said.

In response to a plea from the defendants that they were particularly fond of two of the cats, Wawarsing Judge Wayne Lonstein asked the SPCA to place the two cats in foster homes for one year, Saunders said. After 12 months, the SPCA will return the cats to Deschambeault and Radinoff “should they manage to clean the house up,” Saunders said.

The SPCA will be allowed to visit the Wawarsing home twice in the next 12 months to determine if the women are in compliance with the judge’s order, Saunders said, adding that he doubted the pair would be able to remedy the situation sufficiently to allow for the return of the two remaining cats.

Another animal cruelty case was resolved on Sept. 23, when Richard Stumer of the town of Ulster pleaded guilty to one count of failure to provide sustenance.

Stumer was charged on July 17 with failure to provide sustenance to 22 cats at his home at 92 Vincent St.

In the Stumer case, Saunders said, all of the cats were surrendered and Stumer was granted a one year conditional discharge, with the SPCA conducting four visits to the home during that time. Stumer was ordered not to own or live with any cats for 12 months, Saunders said.

The court granted Stumer custody of a 15-year-old dog “with a lot of health issues” who was also seized in July, because he didn’t want the dog to die at the SPCA. He was allowed to keep it as long as he continues to provide treatment for the animal’s medical conditions and establishes a relationship with a veterinarian.

Stumer “agreed without hesitation” to the stipulation that, if he fails to care for the dog, he will be sent to the Ulster County Jail for 30 days, Saunders said.

Another animal cruelty case also had a somewhat happy ending this week after all but four of 25 horses seized in May from Constance Dirago of Plattekill were placed in new homes by a horse rescue group, Saunders said. The remaining horses are awaiting placement, he said.

Three of the 25 horses in Dirago’s care at the time of the seizure were returned to their original owners.

Ulster County SPCA Dog Trainer Awarded Scholarship

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Helping and healing shelter pets is a passion for many in our area and one Ulster County dog trainer is recognized for her hard work.

Ulster County SPCA dog trainer Cheyanne Edwards is only one of two people in the entire country to be awarded the Captain Haggerty Scholarship.

The scholarship covers admission to the International Association of Canine Professionals Conference.

“You know, I’m definitely a new trainer, I’m a young trainer and as much as I do have a lot of knowledge here, there’s always more, there’s always more to learn, and I want to be able to help them more,” said Edwards.

The Captain Haggerty Scholarship is to help young trainers, ages 18 to 25.

Click here to read the story and watch the accompanying video.

Autumn 2014 Newsletter

Check out our Autumn 2014 newsletter! Fall 2014 frontIn it you will find:


  •  Director’s Greeting
  •  Humane Law Update: On horse seizures and cat hoarding
  •  What’s in a Name: the fun SPCA staff has naming animals
  •  Upcoming events
  •  A rundown of our new Youth Volunteering Program
  •  Adoption spotlights and success stories


Shelter Tails: Blind rescue horse needs a new home

Blizzard is a sweet horse who seeks affection from his handlers. Remarkable, considering how humans have treated him in the past.

This 20-year-old gray gelding thoroughbred’s body condition when he was found was rated at 2 on a scale of 1-9, falling into the category of severely emaciated.

The Ulster County SPCA seized Blizzard along with 15 other horses from a Plattekill horse-boarding property in April. They were found in waste without drinking water. They fought over the water rescuers brought them.

“The horses were crowded,” said UCSPCA Executive Director Adam Saunders, “so most of them were fighting over what grain was there, and they sustained injuries and bite marks, but nothing severe. Most were emaciated and dehydrated from lack of water.”

Without the proper equine accommodations at its Kingston shelter, the UCSPCA has placed them in local equine rescue groups, who provide daily care.

“Blizzard is the only one still in need of constant medical attention,” Saunders said. “He’s the oldest and in the worst shape.”

Blizzard’s coat is in poor condition, suffering from hair loss and rain rot. Cataracts have taken most of his sight. He was long overdue to have his teeth filed down; it had become extremely difficult for him to chew, which partially accounted for his emaciated state.

After recent dental work, he is eating better and has put on some weight. He needs regular medicated baths to deal with the damage to his skin and coat and is on a special feed to help him gain weight.

“Given his blindness,” Saunders said, “he can’t be housed with other horses. It becomes hard for him to compete for food. He gets bullied out sometimes.”

Blizzard is available for adoption to an experienced handler. Seven other horses are also available for adoption. Some of the others have already been placed, and some may be reunited with their original owners.

The UCSPCA is in need of donations to cover the cost of caring for these horses.

“Just feeding a horse alone can run $300 a month,” said Saunders. “Rescues of this nature and size can run the UCSPCA in upwards of $25,000.”

Donations can be made at ucspca.org or mailed to the Ulster County SPCA, 20 Wiedy Road, Kingston 12401, or call 331-5377.