Jaime Studd - An investigator and a veterinarian from the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society visit with a dog during an inspection at Kelly’s Animal Haven in Mayfield.
By JAIME STUDD
For the Express
MAYFIELD — Investigators from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society conducted a surprise inspection at the home of Sue Kelly, owner of Kelly’s Animal Haven, last Wednesday.
The purpose of the visit, according to a sheriff’s department news release, was to “check on the condition of the animals.”
All were deemed to be in “acceptable” condition.
Kelly said investigators were mainly interested in ensuring the well being of the 34 dogs that were removed from the Progress Road home of Tirzah Henry on Friday.
Henry was charged with failure to provide proper sustenance and unlawful disposal of dead animals after authorities conducting a routine eviction discovered several dead animals on the property.
Authorities elected not to seize the remaining animals, mostly dogs, at the time, instead allowing Henry to turn them over to a friend in Gloversville.
That friend, according to Kelly, also found himself unable to care for the animals, and Kelly accepted them into her rescue at the request of Mayfield dog warden Jane Potts.
Kelly said investigators have asked her to continue to care for the dogs until they are able to obtain a court order allowing them to seize the animals from Henry, something she said she is more then willing to do despite receiving no monetary support.
“They want to take those dogs so I don’t have to foot the vet bills,” said Kelly.
Though Wednesday’s visit to Kelly’s home involved the investigation being launched against Henry, it was the not first such visit they have made.
Authorities have routinely conducted random inspections of the property and the animals located there, since the rescue was raided last July.
Approximately 300 animals were taken from Kelly’s care after the property was deemed overcrowded and unsanitary.
Allegations, said Kelly, that were unfounded.
Kelly said she is still reeling from the animal abuse charges brought against her in that case and believes she will be vindicated when she is finally allowed to stand trial.
“They keep putting it off and putting it off,” said Kelly.
Kelly said some of her animals were returned to her several months after last July’s raid, but only after authorities euthanized approximately half of them because they were deemed to be dangerous or unadoptable.
“The court ordered them given back,” said Kim Breyo, a volunteer at Kelly’s shelter. “The judge seemed to think it was OK.”
Breyo also said she saw no need for the euthanization of any of the animals, noting that her young daughter often interacted with and cared for many of the animals that officials had marked as dangerous.
“She got a bad rap,” Breyo said of Kelly.
Breyo, of Broadalbin, said she volunteers several times a week at the shelter, helping Kelly to walk and feed the dogs, and that Kelly has been mislabeled and misunderstood over the course of the past year.
“She’s never done anything but try and make more space for animals,” said Breyo.
Breyo said all of the animals in Kelly’s care are in good condition.
“They’re well-fed, they all have they shots, they all get spayed and neutered,” said Breyo.
“There’s no reason for this,” she added as she watched investigators traverse the property on Wednesday.
Breyo and Kelly said Kelly was intimidated into relinquishing the animals last year, and only did so after authorities threatened to charge her thousands of dollars a day in fees unless she voluntarily turned them over.
“She couldn’t afford to fight them,” said Breyo.
Kelly said she started Kelly’s Haven for Friends, a not-for-profit, in 2000, but she has been caring for abused and neglected animals her whole life.
“She would never do anything maliciously to those animals,” said Breyo.
Breyo said Kelly adopted out more than 150 animals last year to good homes.
“The only ones that stay are the ones that are not adoptable,” said Breyo.
“This is a no kill,” said Kelly.
Kelly said she is very particular about the families she allows to adopt the dogs and requires that one of her volunteers first be allowed to visit the potential home to ensure that it will be a safe and welcoming environment.
Kelly also makes sure that all of the dogs in her care are spayed or neutered and current on required medical care, all of which she pays for herself.
“I will not adopt out a dog until it is spayed or neutered and has all its shots,” said Kelly.
Because of those requirements, Kelly said she currently has only has one dog, Punk, available for adoption, but there are several others waiting only for Kelly to have the funds to finance the veterinary needs before they can be given to a good home.
“He’s a great dog,” Kelly said of the one-year-old dalmatian/lab mix as he affectionately nuzzled Breyo’s leg for attention.
Kelly said she charges $200 for adoptions, but all of the money is used for the continued care of the other animals.
Breyo said Kelly is simply in need of more resources, including funding for veterinary care and food.
Breyo said Kelly is extremely open to accepting help, but the animal volunteers and the monetary donations ceased to exist after last year’s investigation was launched.
“I could use money or food,” said Kelly. “Nobody sends me anything now.”
Kelly said anyone who wishes to volunteer or make a donation of food or money is welcome to contact her at her home, 587 County Highway 349, Mayfield.
Anyone interested in adopting Punk is welcome to do the same, Kelly said.