An uneasy relationship between the Schenectady Police Department and the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville was strained further on Friday afternoon over the custody of two dogs for which neither side had space.
The disagreement culminated with APF Executive Director Rosalie Ault leaving two young mixed pit bulls at police headquarters. She walked out after officers refused to accept the dogs because it couldn’t be proven they were abandoned in Schenectady and the animal control officer was not on duty.
Ault said the dogs were brought to her attention around 3:30 p.m. by a man who said he found them on Albany Street in the city. The dogs suffered from “explosive diarrhea” in the APF lobby, she said. Because the APF didn’t have the space or medical personnel to treat the animals, she and the unidentified good samaritan brought the dogs to the police.
“People think we’re the shelter for Schenectady, but we’re not. The responsibility is the city’s,” said Ault. She said state law makes the stray dogs the obligation of the city.
Officers who dealt with Ault around 4 p.m. on Friday did not agree, according to accounts from Ault and police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken. The two differ on the reasons given for the standoff and the sequence of events.
Ault said the police wouldn’t accept the dogs, at first, because the animal control officer wasn’t on duty and their on-site holding facility was broken. She said one officer then questioned how it could be known for sure that the dogs were found in Schenectady, which became their new reason for refusing the animals.
When it became clear that police would not willingly take the dogs, Ault said she just left them there, where they eventually defecated on the police floor. For her actions, McCracken said Saturday it is possible Ault will face charges Monday.
McCracken maintains that the dogs were not initially taken into custody since they are not the city’s responsibility, as it couldn’t be proven they were strays or found in Schenectady. He would not comment on what the officers would have done or should have done if the animal control officer was on duty.
McCracken lamented the fact that the man who brought the dogs to the APF left the police station before they could question him about how and where the dogs were found.
He also took issue with Ault’s reasons for bringing the dogs there, saying she first said it was because they lacked room and only later suggested the dogs were sick. He added that the dogs, which eventually were boarded at the Hernas Veterinary Clinic in the city, were declared healthy by a veterinarian.
McCracken suggested that APF was shirking its responsibility in this case and argued that APF was supposed to care for the dogs.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve had this problem,” he said.
Ault disputes McCracken’s characterization of events and said it is the police who will not work with them and as a result are not following the law.
“This has been an ongoing problem with the city. We have been helping them out as best we can for the past nine years and have been telling them we can’t handle the volume of dogs they bring in,” she said. “We had met with the City Council about all of this and told them there are dogs running at large because there is no place for them to go.”
“It’s sad that it has to come to this,” Ault said.
Mayor Gary McCarthy wasn’t fully aware of all the facts Saturday night, but said the whole series of events “seems to be a little bit odd.”
“We’ll wait until Monday to sort this out,” he said.
His initial reaction, though, was to disagree with Ault’s understanding of what state law required the city to do. He did not say why she was wrong and instead repeated McCracken’s argument that it couldn’t be proven that the dogs were found in Schenectady or were strays.
McCarthy said dogs are often mislabeled as strays, although in this case he felt it was too soon to tell if this was the case.