State authorities, inspecting Clarence's town kennel this week, said the facility is cleaner than it has been in quite a while -- but nagging sanitation violations resulted in yet another failing grade.
It was the eighth consecutive failed inspection since last fall and the first to follow recent stories in The Buffalo News on foul conditions at the Goodrich Road site.
"It was actually an improvement, but it wasn't up to what we want to see," said Peter Gregg of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. "They're eight for eight on failures now. We're not surprised by this at all."
Town officials said the kennel operations will "pass with flying colors" as soon as a new $25,000 animal shelter opens Sept. 1.
But state authorities, in what was likely a final inspection of the longtime town kennel building, found that some previously cited violations persisted at the older site.
Although state inspectors this week found no piles of dried feces, urine puddles, unfed and uncaged animals or animal bones -- all problems cited at the kennel during the past year -- they did note violations including:
Large numbers of flies on the floor and walls.
Holes in the walls.
Strong odors of feces and urine.
Three frozen animal carcasses in the kennel's chest freezer.
There were no dogs or cats in the kennel at the time of the inspection, which was done by state authorities and the town's consulting veterinarian, Dr. Gordon Crafts, at 11 a.m. Monday.
"It's not what we were hoping to see. But we're expecting that, come Sept. 1, there will be a new shelter there for displaced animals to be housed in a more humane way," Gregg said.
The most recent failure was due to the aging, decrepit structure -- slated for demolition
-- and not the management of the kennel by town employees, said Town Board Member Ian R. McPherson.
"The place itself was clean, the kennels were clean," McPherson said. "It's the facility -- the place is so run-down that even though there was a concerted effort to clean it, there was still the smell that has permeated it for years and years."
As for the dead animals in the freezer, McPherson said that was a fluke due to the timing of the state's inspection.
McPherson said a new town policy for animal disposal -- in the wake of revelations that some carcasses were being thrown into ditches and pits dug by the town's Highway Department -- calls for the frozen bodies to be delivered to the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for cremation on Tuesdays.
State authorities said they question whether the new facility will achieve compliance with sanitation standards, since it will be under the same management -- the town's animal-control officer, Ronald S. Schmidt, and one part-time assistant -- as the current kennel.
But McPherson said that, as of Sept. 1, the new kennel will pass its state inspections "with flying colors."
Gregg said Clarence still faces penalties for past failures. Attorneys for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets are determining what the penalties will be, and a decision is expected soon, he said.