SPCA Rescues More Than 150 Animals from Cheektowaga Property

December 15, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

You can help care for these rescued animals >>

UPDATE, FEB. 6 — All of the chickens from the Cheektowaga cruelty case have been adopted at this time (the SPCA kept two of the chickens in its farm flock).  Twelve of 18 ducks have been adopted; six males remain available for adoption. Mortie the pig has also found his new farm home. When details are available on the dogs and cat rescued during this case, they will be shared here. There are rabbits from this case currently available for adoption; they can be viewed here >>

UPDATE, JAN.31 — Kerisa Schmitt appeared in Cheektowaga Town Court this morning on 154 counts of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals; Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance and 154 counts of Failure to Provide Proper Food and Drink to Impounded Animal (Class “A” misdemeanors under New York Agriculture and Markets Law). She is scheduled to return on Thursday, February 29, 2024 at 9 a.m. for a pre-trial conference. At the request of the SPCA, Cheektowaga Town Court Justice David Stevens issued a “no animal” order, which prevents Schmitt from owning or caring for any animals while this criminal case is pending. Schmitt also signed over to the SPCA possession of the five animals not previously surrendered: two goats, two dogs, and one cat.

According to a press release issued today from the office of Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, “Schmitt was also arraigned this morning on one count of Petit Larceny (Class “A” misdemeanor) in a separate case. It is alleged that on Saturday, January 6, 2023, at approximately 3:50 p.m., the defendant stole merchandise, with an estimated total value of $205.32, from a store on the 2500 block of Walden Avenue in the Town of Cheektowaga. The defendant is accused of failing to scan the merchandise in the self-check out and exited the store without paying for the items. She was released on an appearance ticket.”

The release continued, “At her arraignment today, our office requested that the Court set bail at $10,000 cash or bond under Penal Law 510.10(4)(t) based upon the defendant’s previous failure to appear and her intent to move to West Virginia. The Court released the defendant on her own recognizance, but issued a verbal warning that any future failure to appear will result in a warrant and bail. Schmitt is also scheduled to return on this case on Thursday, February 29, 2024 at 9:00 a.m.”

“I want to thank our partners at the SPCA Serving Erie County for their work in this investigation and the care they have provided to the many animals rescued from this home,” said Erie County DA John Flynn

DA Flynn also commended the SPCA Serving Erie County, SPCA Officer Melina Homsi, SPCA Agent Molly McLaughlin and the Cheektowaga Police Department for their work in this investigation.

Additional updates will be posted here when available.

UPDATE, JAN. 19 — The warrant for Schmitt’s arrest has been rescinded, according to reports received by the SPCA this afternoon, due to miscommunication regarding the open status of the courts. The new appearance date is January 31. One of two rabbits described below as having serious health-related complications upon rescue reportedly did not respond to treatment and, sadly, has been euthanized for humane reasons. The other is showing signs of responding to treatment and is currently in a foster home with an SPCA staff member.

UPDATE, JAN. 18 — Kerisa Schmitt failed to appear in Cheektowaga Town Court this morning.  Justice David Stevens has issued a warrant for Schmitt’s arrest. Updates on this story will be posted here when available.

UPDATE, JAN. 4 — Kerisa Schmitt was scheduled to appear in Cheektowaga Town Court this morning, but did not appear. The SPCA has filed 308 Class A misdemeanor charges. Recently, Schmitt signed over to the SPCA ownership of 151 animals:  117 chickens, 18 ducks/geese, 15 rabbits, and one farm pig. SPCA Educational Farm staff members say 76 chickens have been placed, but 41 of the chickens and all other animals are still being cared for by the SPCA. Schmitt did not sign over ownership of two goats, two dogs, and one cat. Schmitt’s arraignment is  adjourned until January 18 at 9 a.m. Updates on this story will be added here when available.

UPDATE, DEC. 18 — Veterinarians and SPCA staff worked throughout the weekend to complete medical evaluations on all of the animals rescued from the Colton St., Cheektowaga garage and home. All of the birds were banded by the SPCA with identification numbers. Many of them had animal body scores of one. There is respiratory illness, injuries, and some infection amongst the birds, which appear to be young in age. The goats are being treated for respiratory/lung issues, and the pig has an apparent infection in the scrotum area. These animals appear young as well. Two rabbits are in very poor condition; one has injuries and the other has an unspecified illness related to gastrointestinal symptoms. The other rabbits, the dogs, and the cat are in fair condition. At this time, none of the animals have been signed over to the SPCA. Those interested in fostering and/or adopting chickens and/or livestock can fill out an application here >>  and email to the attention of Educational Farm Staff at farm@yourspca.org; fax to (716) 424-1165; or drop off at 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca, NY 14224. Questions on fostering farm animals? Please email SheilaF@yourspca.org or PatriciaB@yourspca.org.

Yesterday, officers and agents of the SPCA Serving Erie County rescued more than 150 farm and domestic animals from a Cheektowaga home and garage.

SPCA Officer Melina Homsi and Agent Molly McLaughlin visited 42 Colton Street in Cheektowaga the morning of Thursday, Dec. 14 to do a welfare check on a dog reported to be at the property; the dog was reportedly owned by Kerisa Schmitt (Schmitt’s name was spelled phonetically in an earlier version of this story since SPCA and Cheektowaga officers were not provided identification at the time of the initial investigation).

Two goats and a pig now safe at the SPCA.

When McLaughlin heard noises and detected foul odors coming from the garage at the property, she saw through a broken window several farm animals living in squalor.

The officers obtained a search warrant to enter the garage and home. Officers found approximately 138 animals in the garage space SPCA Chief Investigator Lindsey Wood estimates as a 20′ x 20′ area. More than 100 of the animals are chickens that were found crammed into two small makeshift pens, one 3’ x 4’, the other 5′ x 7′. The pens were packed with feces approximately six inches deep.

The SPCA rescued the following*:
From inside the garage, 117 chickens, 18 ducks, two goats and one pig. Seven rabbits were rescued from a hutch outdoors on the property. Two dogs, one cat, and eight rabbits were rescued from inside the home.

Just some of the 100+ chickens rescued from Cheektowaga, now at the SPCA

In addition to the animals that were alive, there were multiple deceased animals and body parts from deceased chickens throughout the garage.

All animals were rescued from the scene Thursday and immediately transported to the SPCA Serving Erie County’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca location where they are being cleaned, housed, and fed, and currently receiving veterinary examinations and care.

“In just 24 hours, seeing a total transformation of the fowl from filth and distress to clean, comfortable, and happy is most rewarding, and why we do this job every day,” says Wood. “Our team worked together well into the night and started all over again today to ensure these animals are shown the proper respect and care they were not given previously.”

Assisting Homsi, McLaughlin, and Wood at the scene yesterday were SPCA Officers Heine, Jaworski, and Laird; SPCA Agents Abrams and Giles; Dr. Jean Feldman, DVM accompanied by a veterinary student; Town of Cheektowaga Housing Complaint/Code Compliance and Fire Company representatives; and Town of Cheektowaga Police, including Officer Jones who worked alongside SPCA officers for the duration of the rescue.

The animals have not been signed over to the SPCA Serving Erie County at this time.

Schmidt was issued an appearance ticket for Cheektowaga Town Court January 4, 2024 by Officer Homsi. Animal cruelty charges are pending.

Updates on this ongoing animal cruelty case will be provided here as they become available.

To help with the care of these animals in need, please visit YourSPCA.org/Donate-CheektowagaAnimalRescue. Gifts of any amount are appreciated.

(*Numbers may fluctuate pending further investigation)

You can help care for these rescued animals >>

View this story in the Buffalo News >>