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Bathroom turned animal shelter shocks neighbors

Posted at 7:53 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 19:05:01-04

The City of Dunkirk's animal shelter is a converted bathroom, with no windows, and sits near the Lake Erie shore. A Facebook post showing the exterior of the animal shelter expressing concern over the conditions for animals inside set social media on fire recently.

"I understand it is only a holding facility and it's only for five days, which is temporary," Hannah Dompkowski said Monday. Her Facebook post was shared by hundreds of people. "But, I still think it could use some improvements. It wasn't even an animal shelter it was a bathroom."

Dompkowski, and others on social media, were concerned about the safety of any animals taken to the shelter.

"I just wouldn't want my dog staying here. There was rat feces on the floor. It's dim and dark. No windows. Kind of stuffy air I'm sure because there are no openings."

Steve Purol is the animal control officer for Dunkirk. His is a contracted job so he isn't a city employee.

"They're not in distress," he said. "They hear us out here and they want to go home. They're just crying. Nobody is hurting the dogs. We do not ever kill a dog here."

Purol explained the animals he takes to the shelter never stay for more than five days. It's just used as a temporary holding center for pets that get loose in the city. That way, Purol said, owners don't have to drive to the SPCA in Jamestown every time one of their animals gets loose.

Despite no windows, the interior of the shelter was relatively cool on a hot September afternoon. There are three fans inside to circulate air and Purol said the facility has heat to keep the animals warm during winter months.

Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas said he's received several phone calls from concerned residents offering to volunteer time to help clean up the shelter or to donate money toward improvements. He toured the shelter Monday to see what the conditions were like for himself.

"It's a temporary shelter," Rosas said. "I think the conditions are adequate. Are there better places? Certainly there are. If I felt the conditions here were not adequate, then we would stop providing this service here in the city and we would go straight to the SPCA."

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets inspected the shelter Monday afternoon and tells 7 Eyewitness News the shelter passed.

The Dunkirk animal shelter is owned by the city of Dunkirk and is not connected in any way to the Lakeshore Humane Society or their animal shelter, also located in Dunkirk.