Donor to animal rescue site defends actions of its operator
MAYFIELD A major donor to animal rescue facility operator Susan Kelly said Kelly and her volunteers provided proper sustenance and medical care to the nearly 300 animals taken from her Route 349 property following a July 18 raid.
Kathryn L. Evans of Bleecker, who said she donated $21,000 last year to Kelly’s Haven, also disputed welfare fraud charges filed against Kelly.
“I personally gave Sue Kelly cash specifically as a gift so she would get something to eat. … Normally, she ate what was left over of the nearly spoiled, older food and produce being discarded by area supermarkets and donated to her to feed her pigs. … All volunteers working with her urged her to get public assistance because she refused to use any money donated to the shelter for herself, not even for food,” Evans said in an email.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department charged the 59-year-old Kelly with three counts of welfare fraud for allegedly depositing donations into her personal account.
Officials said the welfare case provided investigators interested in the conditions at her shelter with a basis for the July 18 search warrant. Sheriff’s personnel were joined at the scene by staff of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which shipped all but six of the animals to other shelters.
Kelly’s attorney, Michael W. Smrtic of Gloversville, said authorities may have violated Kelly’s rights when they refused to allow her back on her property or into her house following the raid. The house was condemned by Mayfield Code Enforcement Officer Michael Stewart, but Smrtic said the basis for the condemnation was the presence of animal feces produced by dogs placed in the house by authorities for six to eight hours during the raid.
Smrtic said Kelly kept some dogs in the house, but she and her volunteers regularly walked them.
Kelly was allowed to return to her home late Friday and cleaned up the feces, Smrtic said, but as of Monday, the condemnation order remained in force.
Stewart could not be reached for comment for this story.
Evans said the public should understand Kelly was not an animal hoarder and maintained an active adoption program that in the past 18 months placed 150 animals in new homes.
Evans said she and other donors and volunteers are concerned that animals taken by the ASPCA were shipped to shelters that euthanize dogs and cats if they are not immediately adopted.
ASPCA spokeswoman Emily Schneider said the animals, which included about 100 dogs and 100 cats, were placed with “partner shelters.” She said the goal is “to get every animal adopted. … Our goal is helping the animals.”
Evans said Kelly maintained medical files on each animal, but the ASPCA veterinary team did not review the files before administering new vaccinations.
Schneider questioned the accuracy of that information. “The ASPCA veterinary team followed standard operating procedures on animals we release for adoptions,” she said in an email.
Kelly, also charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty regarding a dead pigeon found in a cage, was issued appearance tickets returnable in court Aug. 23.