BY JOHN J. HOPKINS
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Niagara County SPCA officials didn’t need much time Monday to remove the 60 Pomeranian dogs from a puppy mill inside a Royal Parkway South home.
Animal rescuers arrived around 8:30 a.m. and, about a half hour later, they were on their way back to the Lockport Road-based shelter in the Town of Niagara.
Shelter Director Amy Lewis said Monday afternoon that veterinarians were examining the dogs and found them to be in fairly good shape.
“We’ve gotten through most of them, vaccinating, de-worming; a lot of them are getting some grooming,” Lewis said. “We have a lot of typical small-breed dog issues; dental disease... but for the most part the dogs look good. They just need a little cleaning up on the outside.”
The owner of the home, Ellouise Magrum, 50, faces town zoning code violations, unlicensed dogs, excessive noise and harboring illegal dogs.
The dogs were discovered by a sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper who were investigating a juvenile complaint at the home, located at 6603 Royal Parkway South, off Beattie Avenue. They immediately summoned the town’s dog control officer, Barry Kobrin.
Kobrin said Monday evening the conditions of the home itself weren’t too bad.
“But the living conditions for the family were bad and the living conditions for the dogs were bad,” Kobrin said. “The house permeated of urine and feces. People shouldn’t be living in those conditions.”
The house, with five dozen dogs ranging in age from two weeks to nine years, was “overcrowded,” Kobrin said, with all but two rooms containing the animals.
Cages were scattered throughout. Some of the cages held up to six dogs.
“The poor things were basically living in filth,” he said “The house itself was not filthy, but the living conditions for the dogs was filthy and (the air) was bad. You can only stay in that ammonia for so long before you start to have medical problems.”
Lewis said the nursery was in an upstairs room. Two rooms in the basement also housed dogs, but they were mostly older, from 1-9 years in age. She said the youngest puppy was put out to a foster home Monday.
“You can imagine the smell of 64 dogs that haven’t been outside,” said Kobrin.
Kobrin, who was appointed to the position last year and started the job on Jan. 1, said he had been trying to contact Magrum about noise complaints associated with the dogs. Kobrin’s predecessor had been pursuing the case as well.
He told the US&J that he had stopped by the home twice but no one appeared to be home.
“I could hear the dogs as soon as I pulled up,” he added.
Residents in the Town of Lockport are permitted up to three dogs per home, according to town ordinance. Keeping more than three dogs on one site in the town requires a kennel license, but Kobrin said New York state Agriculture & Markets law won’t permit a kennel license in a residential-zoned district such as Royal Parkway South.
“So she basically was a breeder, selling these dogs as a corporation but they were illegally housed,” Kobrin said. “That’s construed as a puppy mill, without a license for a kennel.”
At least one website was found advertising Pomeranians from Magrum’s home.
“We have Solid, Parti, and Exotic Colors Available at various prices between $500 - $1,000/PET PRICE,” the website reports.
Additional information on the site indicates adults are available for $200-$600 each, with American Kennel Club certified dogs available for an additional $200-$400. Magrum’s association with the AKC has not been confirmed.
“It was a larger-scale breeding operation,” Lewis said. “In the nursery room, there were about five moms with litters. The youngest was two weeks, and the oldest form the litters of puppies was about three months.”
When they are ready, the SPCA will put the animals up for adoption.
“The dogs were signed over to us this morning, so they are SPCA property at this point,” Lewis said. “They’re all social. They’re going to make pretty good pets.”
The SPCA is seeking donations to help defray costs for caring for the animals. Puppy chow, puppy pads, blankets and newspapers are in the greatest need. DOnations may be made at the shelter, 2100 Lockport Road, online at niagaraspca.org or by mail, 2100 Lockport Road, Niagar Falls, NY 14304.
Magrum is scheduled to appear in Town of Lockport court tonight. Kobrin said she may face additional charges.