TOWN OF LOCKPORT – Animal cruelty charges were dismissed Thursday in Town Court against a Lockport dog breeder charged last month after the SPCA of Niagara removed more than 60 Pomeranians from her house.
Ellouise Magrum, 50, of South Royal Parkway, pleaded guilty to a town code violation of an unpermitted use in her home and was fined $250 by Town Judge Raymond E. Schilling. He said she could have faced up to a $350 fine and six months in jail on the animal cruelty charges. An additional charge of endangering the welfare of a child was granted a six-month adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. Magrum has two teenage children.
Her attorney, George V.C. Muscato, said she never should have been charged with animal cruelty.
“Animal cruelty was an inappropriate charge which never should have been brought,” said Muscato.
He said Magrum was not guilty of any mistreatment, noting that a veterinarian from the SPCA of Niagara said the dogs were not in bad health and were well-fed.
He noted that Magrum was forced by the SPCA of Niagara to sign over all the dogs. She would have faced more severe charges if she hadn’t. He said she was not given the chance to make other arrangements.
Muscato told The Buffalo News after court that he will recommend that she fight the SPCA and attempt to have the dogs returned to her, despite the fact that they have already been adopted by new families.
“Her son was devastated. One of the dogs they took was the family pet. Her children loved this animal,” Muscato told the judge. “This woman is not guilty of any wrongdoing, and her family has paid a tremendous price.”
Muscato questioned the fees that the SPCA of Niagara charged for finding new homes for the Pomeranians, which he said were far above what they charge for regular adoptions.
Lockport Police Chief Lawrence Eggert, who is also an SPCA of Niagara board member and was at the scene when the dogs were removed spoke to The News after court and disputed charges that the adoption fees were inflated.
He said a team of volunteers had be called in to wash and clean the dogs, who were found covered in urine and feces. Costs for medical treatment were also factored in, he said.
“One dog had to have 21 teeth taken out, another dog had to have knee surgery. It’s just a lot of money,” Eggert said. “There was a staff of volunteers who spent three days cleaning and bathing them.”
Muscato told the judge that it was true Magrum should not have been raising these dogs in her house and that there was some smell, but he said it had not existed for more than a day or two.