STRATFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The owner of neglected dogs in Fulton County turned himself in to police Thursday night.
Bentley Valdez, 55, is facing 22 misdemeanor charges of Failure to Provide Sustenance and Torturing or Injuring Animals
Nine dogs were found dead and 13 were found malnourished at a property on County Highway 104. Stratford Dog Control Officer Karen Jaquay was shocked.
The James Brennan Memorial Humane Society says one of the 13 dogs rescued died at the vet’s office on Thursday.
“It makes me sad that the poor things had to go through as much as they did,” she said. “It just smelled like death. That’s what it smelled like.”
Jaquay first visited the home last summer. At the time, the owner had 18 healthy prebred French Mastiffs.
“The gentleman cleaned it up, licensed all the dogs,” she said. “The dogs were in good shape for a while.”
But Jaquay said things went downhill sometime since Christmas when she last checked in.
“I can’t even fathom what caused this to happen; what made this major change,” she said.
State Police Captain Michael Tietz said Valdez splits his time between the home in Stratford and Staten Island.
“It’s in pretty deplorable condition,” he said. “It looks like the dogs have had the run of the place for who knows how long.”
Tietz said the living dogs were taken to the Brennan Humane Society to be cared for. A male dog is in the best condition, but even he is about 10 pounds underweight.
“These dogs have not been fed properly or cared for in the manner that they should be,” Tietz said.
Jaquay feels the dogs deserved to have a better life than they did.
“It’s like having a child,” she said. “You are obligated to care for these animals.”
Valez could face more serious charges pending autopsies of the dogs. He remains in Fulton County Jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or $3,500 bond.
He is scheduled to be back in court on April 18.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact state police at (518) 853-3720.
“How do you not realize that these animals need care?” Jacquay said.
Police expect to speak with Valdez shortly and misdemeanor charges are pending with the possibility of more serious charges as the investigation continues.
State Police are now waiting to find out exactly how those dogs died, whether it was starvation or something else.
If you would like to donate to the Brennan Humane Society to help the surviving dogs, click on the link below.