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SPCA, county quickly settle lawsuit

'Three year fight’ leads to animal control deal, details forthcoming

Cats living inside neglected conditions at the home of Rotterdam resident Michelle Regels were removed by Schenectady County SPCA on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Cats living inside neglected conditions at the home of Rotterdam resident Michelle Regels were removed by Schenectady County SPCA on Thursday, Oct. 6. Submitted photo

— Nearly four-dozen cats and one dog led not only to an arrest, but also a lawsuit resulting in a settlement and a promise to address animal control needs.

The Schenectady County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed a lawsuit in the county Supreme Court on Friday, Oct. 7, against the county Sheriff’s Department, alleging a violation of the state Agricultural and Markets Law mandating the department must take custody of any animal belonging to someone arrested by the SPCA.

The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Schenectady County SPCA Chief Matthew Tully described it as a fair one.

“This isn’t the perfect situation, but I think it is the best situation for everybody involved,” Tully said. “We could have fought this and litigated it and we could have probably got a lot more than we did, but it probably wouldn’t be the right thing to do for the taxpayers of Schenectady County.”

County Spokesman Joe McQueen said county officials are withholding any comment on the agreement until all parties discuss and are briefed on details of the settlement. Specific details of the agreement were not released before The Spotlight went to print, but Tully said the deal would be explained at a joint press conference later in the week. McQueen expected the announcement to occur by the end of the week, too.

The lawsuit stemmed from the arrest of Michelle Regels, 39, of Suffolk Avenue, Rotterdam, on one count of animal neglect, a misdemeanor. After the arrest was made, on Thursday, Oct. 6, the SPCA had 44 cats and one dog needing either medical attention or a temporary home before adoption.

The possibility of such a dire situation pushing resources to the limits was on Tully’s mind before the recent situation, but he said his concerns were never addressed.

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