Resident raises alarm on city dog pound

Dunkirk resident Cheryl Gawronski couldn’t help but hear a desperate bark coming from the city dog pound as she rode her bike past Cedar Beach twice recently.

Gawronski told council members and the mayor during Monday’s City Council meeting that she proceeded to rescue a female Beagle puppy from the facility for $40. However, she also described what she witnessed when she was allowed inside the dog pound with the animal control officer. Gawronski noted she was surprised she was allowed inside.

“The first thing I experienced was a very unpleasant and dirty smell,” she said. “The air in there is stagnant and damp. It is dimly lit. There are no windows and there appears to be mold in several areas.”

Along with little space for the dogs at the facility, Gawronski said there’s also no access outside for them. As a result, dogs are urinating and defecating in their small areas. She said she doesn’t know how Steve Purol, dog control officer, can attempt to clean up the dog waste to maintain sanitary conditions.

The animal shelter has been the subject of criticism in the past as it relates to conditions. The facility was deemed adequate in 2016 and 2017 by the state, Gawronski noted.

But she said adequate isn’t synonymous with humane.

“I think Dunkirk is better than adequate,” she said. “Let’s raise our standards and be humane.”Mayor Willie Rosas said following the meeting that the city will be looking to get in and take a look at the facility. The last time he was in the shelter Rosas said it was adequate, but he acknowledged it’s been some time since he last visited.

“Could it be better? Yes, it could be better,” Rosas said.

Dogs are usually kept at the facility for 48 hours. Rosas said to his knowledge, they are kept at the shelter at most for three days. They’re then taken to shelters like the Lakeshore Humane Society or Jamestown SPCA.

“We do have someone assigned there, Mr. Purol, who is supposed to be there daily to provide water and food, which we have there,” he said. “We do have fans there for these dogs, so there’s ventilation.”

Upon hearing what Gawronski witnessed, Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Civiletto acknowledged that he’d like city officials to review conditions of the shelter. With budget season nearing, he also noted that it could be a good time for improvements.

Gawronski said her puppy was infested with fleas and suffered from a rash all over the body, which is usually caused by laying for five days in bacteria laden, unclean and damp concrete. Gawronski pleaded to the mayor and council members that they make it a priority to vastly improve conditions the animals are forced to live in.

In other matters, council members unanimously approved for the mayor to execute an agreement with the Dunkirk City School District for a resource officer. The agreement lasts for three years, August 2018 through July 2021. Rosas said the district will be receiving an experienced officer.

The Dunkirk school board agreed in June to proceed with a school resource officer through city police. The decision came following months of discussion as to the direction the school board wanted to go.

The district will be paying the full salary for the officer, which is in the $90,000 range.


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