ROOT - A town man has been charged with failing to provide proper shelter to dozens of border collies at the Flat Creek Border Collies breeding kennel on Rappa Road.
State police on Tuesday charged Herbert Weich with the violation of the state Agriculture & Markets Law.
Authorities said Weich volunteered to give up 44 of the dogs to the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while he and a neighbor build more shelters for the dogs.
On Dec. 31, police received a complaint of dogs being kept outside without adequate food, water or shelter. Police investigated and found primitive housing, food and water on the property, but no animals showed distress, police said.
As the investigation continued, and based upon the recommendations of a veterinarian and consultation with the state attorney general's office, police charged Weich, police said.
Weich will answer the Agriculture and Markets Law charge in the Root Justice Court on Monday.
State police say troopers investigated after receiving a complaint of dogs kept outside with only plastic barrels for shelter at the property.
Troopers initially deemed Weich was obeying the law since there was primitive shelter and enough food and water. After the troopers' first visit, complaints about the treatment of the animals appeared on social media sites.
Attorneys Richard Rosenthal of Queens and Matthew Albert of Buffalo, part of the Lexus Project, a group that advocates for dog rights, filed a lawsuit against state police and Weich on Monday in an effort to have 66 collies removed from the facility.
"Our immediate concern is the welfare of the dogs, and that takes precedence over everything else," Rosenthal said Monday.
Weich provides plastic barrels for shelter, which Albert said he did not think was adequate.
"The law promises that dogs receive adequate shelter with proper insulation," Albert said. "These dogs are living in barrels that have no insulation. How can no insulation be proper insulation?"
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise delayed proceedings Monday so state Assistant Attorney General Shoshanah Bewlay could represent state police Tuesday.
Bewlay, Rosenthal and Weich compromised before court began Tuesday. Weich agreed to surrender his older collies to the SPCA. He will keep all 14 of his puppies and a few adult dogs. However, if freezing temperatures should occur, Weich promised to bring all of the remaining dogs inside.
Weich said he was issued the violation ticket 45 minutes before the court hearing.
"[The vet] didn't see any problems when she visited because there weren't any problems," Weich said. "But then she changed her mind, and I don't know why."
Weich will report back to the state Supreme Court on Jan. 21 to update the judge on shelter renovations.
He said he's "hoping to get back most of [his] dogs," but he's going to allow the SPCA to put a few of them up for adoption. He said the shelter improvements will be a lot of work, but he's going to receive a lot of help from his neighbor, Brian Clukey.
"It's what neighbors should do," Clukey said Tuesday.
Clukey said he drove Weich to court Tuesday and has volunteered to construct 27 dog houses out of plywood and insulation for him. Each dog house will cost approximately $175. Clukey said he isn't sure where he'll get the money for the project, but he's received a few supply donations.
"I really didn't want to get involved in all of this, but I felt that I had to," Clukey said. "I've lived next to [Weich] for 10 years and I've never seen a dog sick or unhealthy; [the dogs have] always been happy."