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Inside Kelly’s Haven: filth, grime

Mayfield shelter condemned; cats airlifted to Colo.

July 22, 2011
By BARBARA COOK , The Leader Herald

MAYFIELD - From the outside, Susan Kelly's house looks like a typical home. The siding, windows and roof appear fairly new and in good condition. But looks can be deceiving.

The animals inside the house at Kelly's Haven for Friends and Animals were living in a mixture of garbage, feces, urine and dirt. Photos released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Department show a kitchen counter and appliances piled with canned goods and papers while the floor is covered with empty pet-food bags and tote boxes - all covered in a thick layer of dirt. Cabinets and appliances are coated with grime.

Throughout the house, animal feces and pools of urine are mixed with trash. The residence has been condemned for habitation, said Jeffrey Eyre, northeast director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.

Article Photos

A dog, pictured in the lower-right corner, steps into the kitchen at Kelly’s Haven for Friends and Animals in Mayfield, where counters and appliances are covered with dirt and garbage.
Photo provided by Fulton County Sheriff’s Department

In the basement, cages of dogs line the concrete block walls, the tops covered with empty dog crates, supplies and a plastic pool. The chain-link sides of the cages are laced with cobwebs, cardboard is falling from the ceiling and cats perch on the piles.

"There isn't any air conditioning, but there's a series of fans blowing air through," Eyre said. "Preliminary veterinary results are that the majority of the animals had upper-respiratory issues due to the low quality of the air. The environment the animals were being kept in directly affected their conditions."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals airlifted about 30 cats to Colorado this morning and the remaining dogs and cats will be transported by truck later today, Eyre said.

The ASPCA's veterinary team examined and treated each animal, using its northeast Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation Unit, a vehicle outfitted with forensics tools and medical equipment tailored for animal patients, according to a press release.

"Once we assessed all the animals at the facility, we then contacted our shelter response partners to quickly establish placement for the relinquished animals," Eyre said. "We are pleased that so many animal welfare agencies quickly stepped up to offer their assistance and help a community with severely limited resources."

New York agencies assisting the ASPCA with placement include: Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society (Menands); New Rochelle Humane Society (New Rochelle); Washington County Animal Control (Argyle); New England Border Collie Rescue (Stephentown); ResQ Connection (Amsterdam); Companion Animal Placement Program (Rensselaer); Estherville Animal Shelter (Greenfield Center); and Country Roads Animal Rescue (Fultonville).

Inquiries regarding adoption can be directed to the individual agencies.

A bird was found dead in the shelter without food or water, officials said. Kelly faces one count of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals and failure to provide proper sustenance. The investigation is not complete and more charges could be filed.

Kelly also is charged with first-degree filing a false instrument, third-degree welfare fraud and third-degree grand larceny. She will appear in City of Johnstown City Court to face the charges, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Department. She's accused of using Kelly's Haven funds to pay personal bills but not declaring that on welfare forms.

Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said a third-degree grand larceny conviction can carry a prison sentence of 2 1/3 to seven years.

Kelly's attorney, identified on the shelter's Facebook page as Michael Smrtic of Gloversville, could not be reached this morning. According to the Facebook page, he is collecting donations for Kelly.

Barbara Cook covers rural Fulton County. She can be reached at



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