State police announced charges against the owner of 12 dogs - nicknamed the Dirty Dozen - in an alleged animal abuse case on Friday.
Barbara Smith, 65, of 4231 State Highway 28, Herkimer, was charged with 12 counts of failure to provide sustenance according to section 353 of the New York State Agricultural and Markets Law, a class A misdemeanor, which is the most severe class.
State police said in a news release they were called to Smith’s residence on Oct. 13 after “a citizen passing by observed numerous dogs malnourished in the front yard.”
Smith was additionally charged by Town of Herkimer Dog Control Officer Kim Elthorp with 12 counts of not having a licensed dog and 12 counts of not having rabies vaccinations.
Smith was arraigned in Herkimer Town Court by Judge Michael A. Petucci and was released on her own recognizance. She is due back in court Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m.
The dogs were brought to the Herkimer County Humane Society when state police started the investigation four weeks ago. The humane society will have custody of them until the final court proceeding in the case.
“It’s a relief,” said Jodie Crews, assistant manager at the humane society, on Saturday. “It’s justice for those dogs. It took a little while but everything had to be done in the proper order.”
Veterinarians who examined the dogs when the humane society took custody of them discovered a range of health problems varying from each dog. Some were found to have mange, a skin infection caused by parasitic mites. Some of the dogs were also malnourished and suffered from cataracts. All 12 dogs tested positive for Lyme disease.
“The dogs are improving health-wise with the proper medication,” said Crews. She said testing next week will determine if those affected by mange still have it.
Crews also said, “socially, they are coming out of their shells. They’re being more responsive.”
For example, one of the dogs, Bobby, greeted a visitor at the shelter on Saturday by wagging his tail.
The humane society saw an influx of donations and drives to help the dogs soon after local news and social media reported on the alleged abuse case.
Mark Wolber, a Utica attorney representing Smith, said on Saturday he had no comment in regards to the charges. Wolber previously defended his client, stating the mange was misdiagnosed and was the reason for why some of the dogs had such a bad case of it. He also said the rate of Lyme disease is high in Herkimer County.