Niagara Gazette

August 22, 2013

Police investigating breakout at the SPCA of Niagara

By Rick Pfeiffer rick.pfeiffer@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF WHEATFIELD — Investigators from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and Falls police are looking for a suspect who broke into the SPCA of Niagara and took a dog.

The break-in occurred between 8 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday and is believed to be tied to efforts by a Falls man to recover his dog after it was seized by the SPCA.

“We got a call over the weekend from the Falls police to remove a dog from a home on 15th Street,” SPCA of Niagara Shelter Director Amy Lewis said. “The man who had the dog had been arrested for squatting in the home.”

Lewis said an SPCA rescue worker brought the white American bulldog to the organization’s Lockport Road shelter and it was placed in a kennel there. (A Niagara County Sheriff's Office report made available Friday now lists the dog as an English bulldog).

On Monday, the man who had been occupying the 15th Street property showed up at the shelter and demanded the dog.

“He showed up and said, ‘You guys got my dog’, so we took him into the kennel and he identified (the bulldog) as his,” Lewis said. “We told him we needed to see proof of ownership, registration and vaccinations and then he could have the dog.”

Lewis noted the dog did not have any license or vaccination tags when it was seized. 

The man left the shelter and returned short time later with a sheet paper with the letterhead of a Niagara Falls law firm. The paper had his signature and a notary stamp.

“We said this doesn’t prove you own the dog, it just proves this is your signature,” Lewis said.

The shelter director said the man argued with SPCA staffers, but eventually left, without the dog. On Tuesday morning, a kennel worker discovered the bulldog was missing.

“Someone had cut through our fence and entered (the kennel) and removed the dog,” Lewis said. “It may be one thing to take your dog, if it is your dog, but it’s another to break and enter our shelter.”

Falls police said they have been to several locations in the city, looking for the dog. Investigators have also said they have information that the man who claimed the dog now has the animal in his possession.

“We’ll have to see if this is a burglary, or if he owned the dog, then possibly just a criminal mischief,” Sheriff’s Office Capt. Pat Weidel said. “Our criminal investigators are looking into it.”