DUNKIRK, N.Y. – The City of Dunkirk animal shelter is facing criticism for conditions that some people feel are unacceptable, so Channel 2 went to find out what the conditions are actually like.
This all started when a young woman heard a dog through a windowless building on Lake Erie. Her photos and concerns have now been shared more than 400 times on social media.
Channel 2 received permission from Dunkirk’s mayor to go inside the shelter and see for ourselves.
The building does have lights (albeit dim) and fans, however there were holes in the ceilings, and 2 the Outdoors' Terry Belke identified what he believes were rodent droppings.
Animal Control Officer Steve Purol, a contracted retired police officer who is not technically a city employee, says the shelter is windowless because the small building used to be bathrooms back when the beach it's located on was open.
He says it serves as a holding center for no more than five days, and then dogs are transferred to a humane society.
During the dogs’ brief stay, he takes pictures to post on social media to try and identify owners.
Purol says the lights stay on 24/7, and he does the best he can with what the city provides.
He says he knows it's not ideal, but it's the city's shelter, and the city determines the budget.
"The city and you have acknowledged that this is a windowless, converted washroom. What accommodations have you made so that the dogs are comfortable?” reporter Erica Brecher asked.
“Well, I bring down my own blankets. Every dog has a bed. I have two fans in there. I clean [the kennels] regularly. I come down two to three times every day to feed the dogs,” Purol said. “They're not here very long; most of the time the shelter is completely empty, especially in the wintertime. It's well ventilated. Could it have improvements? Yeah. And the city is in the process of a better ventilation system."
Purol said he lets the dogs out in the area immediate surrounding area, but a concerned person we spoke with said that area has litter like tubing and broken beer bottles.
Purol says the shelter has passed state inspections every year, however Channel 2 was unable to verify that as of Sunday night.
We have submitted a FOIA request to New York State for those records.