Facebook post and reward leads to arrest for dog abandonment

— Photos from Facebook

Two dogs were abandoned off of Cole Hill Road in Berne. A Greene County man was arrested after a social-media post led to a tip for police.

BERNE — After a social-media post and a $100 reward drew attention from angered viewers, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man for abandoning two dogs on Cole Hill Road in Berne.

Police arrested Edward T. Ball, 66, of Leeds in Greene County on July 30 after Ball turned himself in to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, according to his arrest report. Ball was charged with two counts of abandonment of a disabled animal.

Sergeant Vincent Nischo said that the charge can refer to either purposeful abandonment or abandoning an animal that has been injured in the event of something like a road accident, but that the dogs were uninjured and picked up by police shortly after they were abandoned.

The sheriff’s office was alerted to the abandonment on July 22, when someone took photos of a white pickup truck that had dropped off the dogs, according to the report.

A day later, William Keal, a Berne resident and real-estate salesman, posted the photos and shared the information from the witness on Facebook, as well as offering a $100 reward for information on the offender. The post was quickly shared to The Happenings in the Town of Berne NY Facebook page, which shares both community news as well as conservative viewpoints on town issues; Keal, who has been involved in several Republican political campaigns in town, helps operate the page.

“It went viral,” Keal said.

Keal told The Enterprise that he had received information about the alleged perpetrator and had passed that information on to the police. The person who informed, and who was given $100 by Keal, wanted to remain anonymous, he said.

Keal offered the reward because what the man had done was wrong, Keal said, but he added that he does not want to encourage vigilante justice.

“I just wanted the guy to know this is wrong and that it’s not right to go ditching your pets out in Berne,” he said.

On the morning of July 25, the sheriff’s office received a call with an anonymous tip about Ball. The caller said that he had seen a Facebook post and recognized Ball’s truck and his dogs, and provided Ball’s name and hometown, according to the arrest report. The police talked to Ball’s son two days later, who told them that neighbors had complained about the dogs on the neighbors’ property, and their landlord had as well, according to the report.

Ball spoke to police over the phone on July 29, the day before he turned himself in, and said that his neighbors were “complaining the dogs were running down on their property,” and then “everything just blew up,” according to the report.

Leeds, a hamlet in the town of Catskill, is located about 30 miles south of Cole Hill Road in Berne.

Cheryl Baitsholts, who serves as the dog-control officer for Rensselaerville, Berne, and Knox, picked up the dogs after they were abandoned and kept them in her custody until Sunday, after which they were turned over to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, she said. They were in good condition, she said.

“I don’t think it happens a lot,” said Baitsholts, of dogs being abandoned in the Hilltowns. “I know it happens.”

Rather, Baitsholts says she often retrieves dogs in the Hilltowns that are far from their homes because, after getting away from their owners, they can travel up to 20 miles in a day.

Marguerite Pearson, the Marketing and Communications manager for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, said in an email to The Enterprise that the two abandoned dogs were brought to the society’s facility in Menands.

The dogs did not require immediate veterinary care, and have not been evaluated by the humane society’s veterinary staff, but are being cared for by staff, she said.

“We are giving them time to settle in, so we don’t yet know if there are any effects of abandonment at this point,” she said.

Pearson agreed with Baitsholts that there does not appear to be a trend of abandoning pets in more rural areas.

“We get calls about pets left behind from all sorts of locations. Though we keep data that is sortable by various parameters, as well as detailed notes as needed, there is not a direct way for us to pull a report specifically related to animals abandoned,” she said.

 

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