The matter is closed.
That is what Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak stated about the recent incident where the city's Animal Control Officer, Steve Purol, dumped dead dogs into a privately-owned dumpster.
Council began its meeting Tuesday and went quickly into a 20-minute executive session that included Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, City Attorney Ron Szot, Police Chief David Ortolano and Purol. When the meeting resumed, Kiyak read from a prepared statement on behalf of council.
Dunkirk Animal Control Officer Steve Purol on the job.
"The New York State Department of AG and Markets has advised the city that it is proper to dispose of deceased animals, including domesticated pets, by double-bagging the animal and disposing the animal at the county landfill. The council has reviewed this policy with the ACO and the ACO has assured us that when this method is being utilized, only city-owned receptacles will be used in the future," she began. "The business involved is not seeking any further action be taken, agreeing that a formal written apology will be sufficient. The ACO has handled the apology today and has provided us all with a copy.
"Council will be drafting a formal admonishment that will be kept in the ACO's file. In addition, it has been decided the ACO will be on probation for 60 days. Lastly, every member of the Common Council takes this matter very seriously and we believe the resolution, as I have outlined, is appropriate. We consider the matter closed."
Kiyak then opened the meeting for the privilege of the floor.
Concerns and questions ranged from what the ACO is supposed to handle to whether he is working elsewhere on city time.
City resident Pat Mleczko discovered the dogs in the dumpster and was not pleased with the city's response.
"I'd just like to say I thought you all were elected to serve the public," Mleczko began. "I guess I was wrong, especially the mayor who got the first call on this situation about the dog issue, As of today I have been contacted by nobody. No one asked me my statement, no one asked me what happened. No one asked me what I saw, not one person contacted me. Maybe this all could have been resolved in a professional manner, but I received no phone calls."
She also wondered where dogs have been dumped since the city stopped having dumpsters in January.
City resident Maureen Pagan said she was "horrified to look in the paper and see this little dog in there like that and see his tongue hang out." She added she has had a "run-in" with Purol over her aging dog being loose.
"He was taking him and ripping him in my yard with that string around the neck and the pole like he had no compassion for the animal at all," she explained. "He didn't come knock on my door and ask if that was my dog, he was just going to pull him through the yard."
Pagan had another concern.
"Every little thing you do wrong in this city, especially if you're a minority or married to one, you're going to be punished one way or the other," she stated. Pagan added that if she had dumped her garbage like Purol dumped the dog "the police would have been there and I would probably have gotten two tickets and I would have stood in front of Judge Drag and he would have looked at me and handed an even $200 fine. I don't think this is right and this is making all the other people in Dunkirk, especially the minorities, angry."
Purol reported of the dogs in question one was hit by a car and the other was euthanized by a local vet.
"We have just had an executive session. We have established guidelines. The matter is closed to our satisfaction," Kiyak said as the meeting turned to other matters.
After the meeting Purol was asked about using non-city dumpsters.
"Was I aware of it? I'm more concerned about the animals that are hit by cars and never claimed, and the owners that never come forward and the drivers that don't stop," he replied. "I used the best methods I thought was possible at the time to resolve that situation. ... Sometimes there's a lack of communication or direction. It's unfortunate. I don't think there's anyone out there that cares more about animals than I do. I'm doing my very best to do a good job for the city."
Purol said the process at the city barns would alleviate the problem, as the animals have to be buried at least three feet deep and the landfill was the place to take them.
Purol, who was appointed in June 2010 by council, was asked if he was satisfied with council's action.
"I think the council made very wise decisions. I know they support what I do and I appreciate their assistance and help," he replied. "Sometimes in a change of leadership there's new policies and procedures. Everything can always be improved upon and I'm always striving to do a better job."
He was asked why he used the dumpster he did.
"The city has made a decision on what to do in the future and I have to follow that decision. Sometimes decisions are made that may not be the very best," he replied. "I did what I thought was the right thing to do at the time. Unfortunately, it wasn't. We have a better procedure now that will make everything a whole lot more safe and humane; and a better service to the city."
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