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WARRANT SEEKS MAN IN ANIMAL CRUELTY

A Stockton man charged with animal cruelty failed to appear for his Town Court arraignment for the second time.

Leslie Smith, 51, of Dean Road reportedly missed his Monday court appearance because he is seeking employment in Chicago. A bench warrant was issued by Justice Robert Burlingame and bail was set at $20,000 cash, or $40,000 property bond. Smith also missed an arraignment on March 23.

On March 15, the Humane Society removed 44 mixed-breed dogs, 15 mixed-breed puppies, 35 chickens and several other animals from the Smith property after a series of complaints. The animals remain in a Humane Society shelter.

Smith initially was charged with multiple counts of unlicensed dogs and later was charged with cruelty to animals and criminal possession of a hypodermic needle after an investigation by state police based in Fredonia. Assistant District Attorney William Coughlin said a permit is required to possess the hypodermic needle, which was apparently being used in the animals' care.

Outside the courtroom, Coughlin said he was "not happy at all."

"We have been in contact with his attorney and have offered a plea to the charge upon his return," Coughlin said. "If he does not return, we will seek civil proceedings to confiscate the animals."

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old cancer patient of the Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children in Erie, Pa., has his heart set on one of the husky puppies he saw on a TV newscast, said Humane Society Executive Director, Laura Hayes. She added that she is currently housebreaking the puppy.

Coughlin said his main concern is that the animals are taken care of.

He also called for the timely disposal of the case. Daily care of the animals costs the Humane Society an estimated $200 per day.

Ms. Hayes said the dogs had been living in cramped, dirty cages and with little water available for any of the animals. Three cows inside a barn were standing atop a 7-foot pile of manure, she added.

"An arrest warrant has been issued, but whether it will be acted upon I doubt it," said Smith's attorney, Nathaniel Barone of Jamestown.

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