None of the more than 50 dogs taken from the Flat Creek Border Collie breeding kennel in Sprakers last month will return to kennel owner Herbert Weich, according to his lawyer.
Ron Schur, a Mayfield attorney representing Weich, said his client signed over permanent ownership of 10 dogs previously removed from his property that he originally hoped to reclaim.
“This guy is getting hit from every angle,” Schur said. “He just needed to simplify things.”
Late last year, trouble found Weich when local dog lover Eric Bellows noticed dozens of border collies living in snowy communal pens with only modified plastic oil barrels for shelter. He called in an animal abuse tip to the police and involved an army of animal lovers via social media.
As the state police investigated the case, Lexus Project animal rights lawyers filed an Article 78 Proceeding on Jan. 6 in an attempt to get some of Weich’s dogs seized before a predicted cold snap.
Weich was ticketed for not providing adequate shelter a few days later, and appeared in state Supreme Court in Montgomery County to give up a big chunk of his 60-dog pack. He originally turned over 35 collies and half a dozen shih-tzus to the Montgomery County SPCA in the hopes of getting 10 of his favorites returned to him as he improved living conditions at his property.
Near the end of last month, after a comprehensive veterinary exam of 35 rescued Flat Creek collies allegedly revealed wide spread malnutrition and general bad health, officers returned to Weich’s home with a search warrant. They took 13 more dogs and charged Weich with an Agriculture and Markets Law criminal misdemeanor for allegedly failing to provide proper sustenance.
Schur was hired to represent Weich with funds collected by friends and neighbors of Flat Creek. Currently, he’s not involved in the criminal case against Weich; he’s only representing him in the original Article 78 Proceeding.
At the time, Weich only gave up the first round of removed dogs on the condition he could reclaim 10 of them as proper dog houses were erected for them. When criminal charges were leveled, Schur said Weich just didn’t have the resources to handle two fights.
“This is taking a toll on him,” Schur said. “Emotionally and financially.”
With permanent rights to all the dogs relinquished, Schur said papers to withdraw the Article 78 Proceeding will be filed within the week, leaving Weich to fight the criminal battle.
Technically, there is still a possibility Weich could go to court and beat the misdemeanor charge against him, winning the right to reclaim the 13 most recently seized dogs, but Schur said that is very unlikely.
The court may order Weich to pay a bond for the care of each seized dog while the case progresses, racking up a bill Weich will be unable to pay, Schur said.
“Even if he wins,” Schur said, “he won’t be able to pay the bond and won’t get his dogs back.”
The first round of removed collies were taken to the Glen Highland Farm in Morris. A post on that organization’s Facebook page Tuesday reported the 10 dogs Weich gave up are “forever safe” and will be headed to foster homes now that they are in no danger of returning to Flat Creek.
It’s unclear as the criminal case proceeds what will happen to the handful of dogs still in Weich’s care.
“The sad thing about this is if he had just euthanized the dogs that weren’t adopted, this never would have been a problem,” Schur said, “but he’s not that kind of guy. He took care of them every day, but apparently people think the dogs would have been better off laid to eternal rest than living in his care.”