GLOVERSVILLE — The nine remaining French mastiffs became available for adoption Friday from the James A. Brennan Memorial Human Society after the dog’s former owner Bentley Valdez failed to comply with a court order to pay $68,447.
“We’re very pleased that these dogs are now available for adoption,” John Schopf, attorney for the human society, said.
Fulton County Court Judge Polly Hoye ordered Valdez on July 20 to pay for the cost of the care and feeding of the dogs going back to April 5 — when New York state police seized the animals from Valdez’s property, 404 County Highway 104, Stratford — or else forfeit his ownership rights to the animals. With the fine unpaid as of Friday, complete ownership of the animals was acquired by the human society.
When the dogs were first seized on April 5 there had been 22 dogs on the property, nine of the dogs were dead, one was in critical condition, one dog appears to have escaped, and the others were in various states of emaciation. State Police Captain Michael Tietz told the Leader-Herald on April 6 that what took place at 404 County Highway 104 was the worst case of animal neglect he’d ever seen.
Since then, the dog in critical condition died and another one of the mastiffs died due to stomach problems, leaving the remaining nine, which have put on weight and appear to be thriving.
Adoption placement of the dogs will not be done on a “first-come first-serve basis,” according to a Friday Facebook status update from the James A. Brennan Memorial Human Society.
“We are accepting applications for the dogs in general and have not moved forward to the point of applications on individual dogs,” according to a Facebook post from the human society.
Schopf said a standard animal adoption at the James A. Brennan Memorial Human Society includes an application process where the human society will evaluate the applicant’s living situation, whether they live in an apartment and if the apartment allows animals or a home with a fenced-in backyard, as well as other factors, aimed at determining if the adoption is appropriate.
“Some of the dogs have already been placed in foster homes and some of those homes will likely adopt the dogs, which is not atypical in situations like this,” Schopf said.
The notoriety of the case has prompted significant donations to the James A. Brennan Memorial Human Society and at one point had attracted the attention of international dog breeders, some of whom claimed to have an ownership stake in the French mastiffs, an expensive breed of show dog, which can sometimes fetch prices as high as $1,000 to $5,000 per dog.
Schopf said all of the James A. Brennan Memorial Human Society adoption agreements require the dogs to have been spayed and neutered, so the dogs will not be available for any future breeding.