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PetSmart Stops Adoption Partnership Due To Sanford Animal Neglect Case

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VESTAL, N.Y. -

After the April arrest of John Elmer, accused of mistreating animals in the Town of Sanford, PetSmart launched an internal investigation into a Cortland spay and neuter clinic. CNY SNAP has confirmed that Elmer was one of their volunteers, but has since severed ties with the 39 year old.

PetSmart stores in Vestal, Dewitt, Ithaca, and Horseheads partner with CNY SNAP as part of their PetSmart Charities In-Store Adoption Program. The cat shelter would bring animals to those stores in hopes of finding them homes. In a statement to Fox 40, the pet store chain says they immediately suspended the clinic from the adoption program when they heard of the organization's connection to Elmer.

CNY SNAP has been reinstated in those PetSmart stores, since the company found "the organization ended its relationship with the volunteer in question, and the adoptable pets in the care of Central New York Spay Neuter Assistance Program were not harmed."

The director of CNY SNAP, Janice Hinman, declined an interview, but did send a written statement. 

I want to be clear about an important point--there has never been any issues raised about the responsible treatment of animals under CNY SNAP's care by any of our volunteers since our inception in 2005.  We are an all volunteer organization and have spayed/neutered over 38,000 dogs and cats in Central NY at low to no cost to the animal caretakers.  CNY SNAP has also found forever homes for over 6,000 animals through our adoption programs.  CNY SNAP has had a long productive relationship based on mutual respect with the PetSmart adoption program in the 13 years of our association.  PetSmart temporarily suspended adoption activities while an investigation was performed and we were quickly reinstated into their program in good standing with adoption activities already resumed.

— Janice Hinman, Director of CNY SNAP

Elmer is facing nine counts of animal neglect charges after police seized 11 animals from a property on Hawkins Road on April 12th. Elmer pleaded not guilty to those charges on Friday in Town of Sanford Court. 

Back in 2005, Elmer was charged with 86 felony counts of animal abuse when police removed 48 animals from a Windsor property. Those charges were pleaded down to misdemeanors.

We asked Hinman if she was aware of that 2005 arrest when Elmer was brought on as a volunteer, but she would not answer the question.

CNY SNAP ended our working relationship with John Elmer when we first learned of pending charges. CNY SNAP considers this matter closed and we are concentrating on moving forward with our mission of reducing  animal overpopulation in central NY.

— Janice Hinman, Director of CNY SNAP

Hinman would not say how long Elmer was a volunteer and what he did at the clinic.