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Guilty plea in dog deaths

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Posted: Monday, September 27, 2010 12:00 am

ROMULUS —A former dog breeder pleaded guilty Friday to multiple counts of inhumane destruction of a dog.

David B. Yoder, 45, of 5929 Route 414, was fined $300, plus a $205 state-mandated surcharge.

Earlier reports indicated that Yoder had euthanized 93 dogs without oversight from a veterinarian. But a Seneca County Sheriff’s Department investigation found that Yoder used

carbon-monoxide emissions to euthanize 74 dogs July 3 and had a veterinarian euthanize another 10 dogs by “accepted methods” July 8.

The inhumane destruction charges stemmed from his use of carbon monoxide to euthanize the animals, said Mark Sinkiewicz, first assistant district attorney.

A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spurred the criminal investigation, the sheriff’s department said.

The report said Yoder’s kennel had been riddled with canine brucellosis for over a year. By July, the situation had deteriorated to the point that Yoder decided to depopulate the kennel.

“Since commencing our investigation, the USDA has since reported to us that there are a wide range of mitigating factors involved in this case, and they still have it under investigation,” Sheriff Jack Stenberg said in a press release. “We do not have a date when it may be completed.”

He said Yoder used carbon monoxide because he believed it would be the most humane way to euthanize the dogs.

“He had witnessed his own dog being put down with an injection and felt the dog suffered [and he was also concerned about] the delay in putting together a team of veterinarians to come to his kennel, which he was told would take two weeks,” Stenberg said. “The fact remains, it is against the law in New York state to euthanize

animals in the way he allegedly did and without oversight by licensed veterinarians.”

The sheriff also issued a warning to those who have sent hate mail and death threats to “the Yoders and others” since the investigation began.

“We want the record to be clear that we will not tolerate threats of intimidation or violence,” he said. “This matter was resolved in the courts, where it should be.”

Stenberg said he plans to reach out to the organizers of a planned peaceful protest in an effort to allow them to exercise their constitutional rights while also ensuring that no one is harmed.

Jenny McWhorter, president of the Seneca County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), worked with the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department during its investigation of Yoder.

Yesterday, she reacted to the disposition of his case.

“The Seneca County SPCA appreciates the work our sheriff’s department and the district attorney did on this case. Although we are disappointed in the outcome, with such a minor judgment against Mr. Yoder, it is a step in the right direction, sending a message to people who abuse animals. Companion animals such as dogs are not livestock and should not be treated as they are,” McWhorter said.

Yoder could have received a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to a year in jail for the “unclassified misdemeanor” he was charged with, but it was Justice Donald Greule’s prerogative and he chose to go with the lesser fine, said Sinkiewicz.

Several factors were taken into consideration, added Sinkiewicz, explaining that Yoder had no prior criminal history, admitted his actions and cooperated with the investigation by Stenberg’s department.

Sinkiewicz said he just happened to be at the Romulus Town Court’s regular session when Yoder appeared there for arraignment Friday. Yoder opted to plead guilty at that time and he was not represented by legal counsel.

Yoder’s USDA dog kennel license has been revoked. After the USDA report detailing Yoder’s euthanasia of his dogs by carbon monoxide poisoning was made public, Yoder told the Times he has no intention of re-entering the dog breeding business.

The original USDA report from July stated that Yoder had put down 93 dogs, but the subsequent investigation by Stenberg’s department revealed that the correct number was 74, Sinkiewicz said. Another 10 dogs were later euthanized humanely by a veterinarian.

Animal cruelty workshop

ROMULUS — On Oct. 23, the New York State Humane Association (NYSHA) and the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department will host an “Investigating Animal Cruelty Workshop” designed for police officers, humane investigators and animal/dog control officers at the Seneca County Law Enforcement Center. Scheduled speakers are NYSHA president and retired state trooper Sue McDonough; Ulster County Deputy Sheriff Andrea Fister; Harry Hovel of NYHSA; veterinarian Holly Cheever; and a representative of the Seneca County District Attorney’s office.

Topics include:

n/ New York state animal cruelty laws and when to use them;

n/ The correlation between animal abuse and human violence;

n/ Working with a veterinarian on a cruelty case;

n/ Necessary steps to prepare a winning court case.

The $20 workshop fee includes a continental breakfast. To register or for more information, contact NYSHA at (845) 336-4514.

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