Updated: 01/11/2014 12:17 AM
Created: 01/11/2014 12:12 AM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch
GLENVILLE – The controversy at the Flat Creek Border Collies puppy farm in the Montgomery County Town of Root has now inspired two bills in the New York State Legislature.
The farm’s owner, Herbert Weich, is charged with failing to provide adequate shelter for the dogs in subzero temperatures. It’s a violation that carries a maximum fine of $100 for the first offense.
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk (D – Duanesburg) announced Thursday she is introducing a bill that would make failing to provide proper shelter for dogs a misdemeanor.
But State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R – Glenville) said that is not enough. He and State Sen. Greg Ball (R – Paterson) are introducing a bill Saturday to make the penalty even stiffer.
"We're going to call for a felony for somebody who doesn't provide appropriate shelter, water, and food," Tedisco told NewsChannel 13. "Not a misdemeanor. Not a violation."
Tedisco was the driving force behind Buster’s Law, which makes aggravated animal cruelty a felony. This new bill would be separate, but equally tough.
If it becomes law, those found guilty of failing to provide proper shelter for dogs could face up to two years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines, Tedisco said.
The bill would not be retroactive. Therefore, Weich is still facing no more than a $100 fine and no jail time. His dogs will be returned to him if he builds a better shelter for them.
Another bill co-sponsored by Tedisco is now law. Gov. Cuomo signed the "Puppy Mill Bill" into law Friday, allowing local governments to regulate breeders and pet dealers.
The state’s existing statues are still in effect, but cities, towns, and villages now have the power to pass their own stricter guidelines and penalties.
"The vast majority of dogs purchased in pet stores come from puppy mills, and it is high time that we gave localities the ability to crack down on them," Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal (D – Manhattan), the bill’s prime sponsor, said the new law will give municipalities the ability to ban the sale of dogs from puppy mills.
The bill passed the legislature in June, six months before the controversy in Montgomery County first made headlines. The governor had until midnight Friday to sign or veto it.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the situation in Montgomery County played no role in the governor’s decision to sign the bill into law, but Tedisco disagreed.
"Twelfth hour, he had to either sign it or veto it," Tedisco said. "The animal advocates -- by the hundreds and, I think, thousands -- contacted him."
"They said, 'Take a look at this,'" he said. "They sent him the video. And I think he saw, in real time, what these puppy mills are like."