By Rick Pfeiffer
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — WHEATFIELD — Cindi Stricklin showed up at the SPCA of Niagara’s Lockport Road shelter on Tuesday looking to offer a helping hand.
She left with a trio of Pomeranians, a mom and her two puppies.
“I’ve rescued cats before,” Stricklin said. “I have a friend who is a volunteer (at the shelter) and she said they needed help. So I stopped by and they asked if I could foster some dogs.”
Stricklin didn’t think twice and left the shelter with the 1 1/2-year-old mom and her 3-week old puppies in tow. For the next several weeks, until the mom is ready to ween her pups, Stricklin, and her 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter will be Pomeranian foster parents.
“You take them into your home and you take care of them,” Stricklin said. “And you take them back (to the SPCA) every few weeks for checkups. Then when the puppies are ready, (the shelter will put them up for adoption).”
Stricklin wasn’t looking, at first, to adopt any of the 60 dogs taken from a Lockport puppy mill Monday. But now that they’re in her home, she admits the kids are already getting attached to them.
“The mom, she’s amazing,” Stricklin said. “She’s very docile and very attentive and she’s got such a great personality.”
Does that mean there might be an adoption in the Stricklin family’s future?
“I would adopt her in a minute,” Stricklin said with a chuckle.
SPCA officials say they’ll begin sending some of the rescued pomeranians to new homes later today. The dogs’ owner, Ellouise Magrum, agreed on Monday to surrender the animals to the shelter.
“She relinquished all of them and that has made this a lot easier,” SPCA of Niagara Executive Director Andrew Bell said. “Our first three batches, of 30 dogs, will be heading out (today). We’ll have them come back for spay and neutering when we can get surgery time. The adoptions can’t be final until we spay and neuter, but until then, we’ll get them into their new homes.”
Bell said for the second day in a row, the shelter was swamped with folks looking to help the animals.
“(Tuesday) has been another amazing day,” he said. “We’ve had a constant stream of people dropping off food and cash and (other items we need). This is the way it’s supposed to be.”
Despite being the products of a puppy mill, Bell said all of the dogs did well in behavioral testing. He said when folks chose their new pets, they’ll be pleased.
“They are all very well behaved,” Bell said. “They are all cute dogs. There are no bad choices here.”
Bell said the local shelter has been helped by a wide range of animal rescue groups and volunteers.
“All the local rescue groups have been calling to help, which is a big change from before,” he said. “The outpouring of support has been tremendous.”
While her former dogs found new homes, Magrum, 50, 6603 Royal Parkway South, was making an appearance in Lockport Town Court. On Tuesday, investigators from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, the Town of Lockport Dog Warden and the SPCA charged her with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of cruelty to animals.
Magrum pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on her own recognizance.
Not only is Magrum not guilty, the charges should’ve never been brought in the first place, her attorney said Tuesday.
“She is charged with crimes she did not commit,” George V.C. Muscato said.
SPCA of Niagara officials said the dogs were healthy, a point Muscato made Tuesday. The fact is they had a number of dogs and all of them were properly cared for, he said.
“They were fed, seem to be in pretty good shape to me, I think it’s an overreaction on the part of the SPCA,” Muscato said.
Magrum will return to Lockport Town Court on Feb. 21.