Court order stalls Durham dog adoptions

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Updated: 3/11 8:52 pm

DURHAM, N.Y. – A few of the dogs removed from two properties in the Town of Durham have not been adopted out due to co-ownership issues.

Dawn Verdeschi, 45, is charged with 32 counts of failure to provide sustenance, two counts of failure to provide appropriate shelter for dogs, and one count of failure to provide sustenance for a Persian feline.

Officials confirmed in late February that Verdeschi signed the dogs over to the Columbia Greene Humane Society. But although most of the dogs were ready to be adopted, the President of the Columbia Greene Humane Society Ron Perez said there is an issue with co-ownership and all of the dogs were under a court order, stalling the adoption process.

As of March, Perez says 18 of the dogs are already living at their new adoptive homes, leaving 21 dogs still being cared for by the Humane Society.

"We had some other people that came forward which are associates of hers claiming that they own some of these dogs they failed to provide any paper work showing ownership.  Our position was we're not going to allow the dogs to go back potentially to something we pulled them from. We don't know what the intent of these individuals are to return them to the defendant so they have filed a suit against us," said Perez.

He says the society was able to prove in court that Verdeschi did sign over ownership of the dogs to them, and only 6 of the dogs are still on hold because of people claiming to own them.

"We entered into an agreement with the defendant that she would surrender the animals to us. If there were third party owners or co-owners that we would get those dogs back to the rightful owners," said Perez.

Perez says he did return one of the dogs to an owner other than Verdeschi who provided proper papers for the dog.

The remaining dogs have adoptive families and are in the process of going to live with them soon, except for a few puppies because they are not old enough yet.

An anonymous call sparked an investigation that led to the removal of 39 dogs and one cat from a property on Hervey Sunside Rd. as well as a second location on Morrison Road.

One humane society member said a dog found inside one of the homes did not have water and quickly ate snow when it was brought outside.

Verdeschi will be arraigned on these charges March 25, 2014 in the Town of New Baltimore Court. She is currently free on bail.

In March, Christopher Cella turned himself in to police, accused along withVerdeschi of failing to provide food and water for the animals.

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