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Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011County: Washington
» Gabrielle S. D'Amour
» Christian W. Goldner - Dismissed (Conditional)
» Michael J. Lawyer - Dismissed (Conditional)
» Lynn E. Lawyer - Dismissed (Conditional)
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
Four people were charged with animal cruelty on Monday for their roles in the operation of an animal shelter that was raided by police and the SPCA last month.
Gabrielle S. D'Amour, 37, and her husband, Christian W. Goldner, 50, each face 54 misdemeanor counts in connection with the conditions of 68 dogs and cats that were taken from their 7491 Route 22, Hebron home on Sept. 21, Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Michael McWhorter said.
The couple operates Peaceable Kingdom Animal Rescue from the home.
Two Vermont residents who assist them, Michael J. Lawyer, 40, and Lynn E. Lawyer, 39, both of North Bennington. Vt., were charged with a single count each of animal cruelty.
The charges against them pertain to a dog they were caring for that wound up on the property of a neighbor of D'Amour's, whose complaint prompted police and SPCA of Upstate New York to go to the home to check conditions of animals.
All four were released pending prosecution in Hebron Town Court.
McWhorter said the animals were found to be emaciated, dehydrated and with numerous medical problems that did not to appear to have been treated, including mange, eye infections, dental problems and diarrhea.
The home was ordered closed by the Washington County Code Enforcement Office pending it being cleaned up.
"The conditions were extremely unsanitary," the deputy said.
Numerous dogs and cats were allowed to remain there as it is cleaned up. McWhorter said their health did not seem as poor as that of the animals that were turned over.
D'Amour agreed to surrender the 68 animals to the SPCA of Upstate New York, and McWhorter said he was not aware of any of them dying or having to be euthanized.
McWhorter said the police investigation was continuing and more charges were possible. One of the aspects of the investigation that remained ongoing was D'Amour's past claims that Peaceable Kingdom was a registered non-profit organization.
The organization's page on the social networking website Facebook had up until several months ago included a claim that it was a "501c(3)" non-profit, referring to the section of the Internal Revenue Code that covers non-profits.
But a search of the Internal Revenue Service's website shows Peaceable Kingdom is not registered under 501c(3).
"We would like to talk to people who adopted animals from Peaceable Kingdom or donated to them to understand what they were told," McWhorter said. "There's a lot to this case that we're still looking into."
The organization's Facebook page also listed its address as a Route 22, North Granville address until a day or two after the police and SPCA visit to the home.
The website also includes references to "trying to close our doors."
Anyone with information in the case was asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 747-4623.
D'Amour was also prosecuted after State Police found 50 dogs and cats and what they called "very unsanitary conditions" at the home in April 2007, leading to her arrest on misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child and criminal nuisance for allowing her children to live there.
The charges were ultimately dropped with an agreement that she not operate the shelter from her home for at least a year.
Any children who live in the home are now over the age of 17, McWhorter said.
D'Amour, contacted for comment Tuesday, said, "My only comment is that there are still many dogs here available for adoption."
The day of the police raid, she told a reporter that she brings dogs to Peaceable Kingdom that were brought to shelters in other states where they would be euthanized if homes weren't found.
Peaceable Kingdom has been holding adoption clinics at pet stores in the Albany area earlier this year.
Its website lists an adoption clinic planned for Saturday.
|The former proprietor of a Route 22 animal shelter was sent to Washington County Jail Monday for up to 60 days as part of a plea deal in an animal cruelty case.|
The deal required Gabrielle D'Amour to enter a so-called "Alford Plea" to a charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with neglect of cats and dogs at the shelter, which was based in her two-story farmhouse at 7491 Route 22.
The plea agreement allowed her to avoid admitting wrongdoing, but she acknowledged there is sufficient evidence against her for a conviction. The single charge satisfied 54 misdemeanor animal cruelty counts.
D'Amour, 38, agreed to terminate Peaceable Kingdom, the non-profit corporation that ran the shelter. She also agreed to not open another shelter and pay $2,500 in restitution for damage caused to a neighbor's property by a donkey that escaped from her shelter.
She also paid $750 to the SPCA of Upstate New York, which cared for the animals she surrendered.
D'Amour was sentenced to a 1-year conditional discharge that will require her to follow the terms of the plea agreement or risk further jail time.
"She said she has no more animals, and she has vacated the property," Washington County First Assistant District Attorney Katherine Henley said.
D'Amour, her husband and two supporters were charged in the fall, after the Washington County Sheriff's Office and SPCA of Upstate New York took away an estimated 68 dogs and cats police said were suffering from malnutrition and a number of illnesses. Police said 142 animals were on the property at the time.
The house was condemned because of unsanitary conditions, though D'Amour's family cleaned it and was allowed back in within a few days.
Misdemeanor animal cruelty charges against D'Amour's husband, Christian W. Goldner, 50, and two people who assisted D'Amour with the shelter, Michael J. Lawyer, 40, and Lynn E. Lawyer, 39, both of North Bennington. Vt., were adjourned Monday for six months in contemplation of dismissal.
That means if they are not re-arrested in that period, the charges will be dropped.
The prosecution marked the second time D'Amour was charged. She was also prosecuted in 2007 on a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child because of conditions in her home.
In an email exchange earlier this month, D'Amour said she chose to serve a jail term instead of three years on probation because she and her family plan to move from Washington County to Florida.
She would not have been able to move while on probation because Florida does not take interstate probation transfers.
D'Amour said in an email the prosecution doesn't solve the problem of a lack of animal shelter space in Washington County. She said animals were being dropped off at her shelter for months after the September visit by police and the SPCA.
"Personally, I was wanting the trial, but I had to think of the three other people (relatives) and expense of trial," she wrote. "There is way too much info that wasn't heard."
|Source: Post Star - July 10, 2012|
Update posted on Jul 10, 2012 - 6:08PM
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