State: Dunkirk animal shelter can be used as temporary holding center

DUNKIRK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets last October — and again Monday afternoon — conducted an inspection and approved the Dunkirk animal shelter to serve as a temporary holding facility for dogs.

But a recent post on social media whipped local animal lovers into a frenzy, some going as far as threatening to break into the building, or worse, harm the city’s dog control officer.

Some posters said the dogs staying there were being mistreated, forced into poor conditions, even euthanized. For example, because of the angle of a picture that accompanied the post on Facebook, the smoke stacks of the former Mohawk power plant appeared as if they were coming from the roof of the small building.
Animal Control Officer Steve Purol, a retired police officer, said he never expected such hatred.
“People are threatening to come down here, break down the door and steal the dogs, cut the locks, climb over, blow it up,” Purol said. “Terrible things, threats to me.”
The building is unassuming, windowless and run down. From the outside, only the signs indicate it’s Dunkirk’s animal shelter. It was once used as a public bathroom when the area was still used as the city’s beach and lake access.

It’s seen better days. There are holes in the ceiling that allow insulation to sag through. There are sections with mold. Although there are no windows, the interior felt comfortable despite outside temperatures exceeding 80 degrees. The shelter is approved by the state to house dogs for no more than five days at a time. If the owners can’t be found within five days — or they give up ownership — Purol takes the dogs to the SPCA shelter in Jamestown.

“It’s cool in the summer, warm in the winter. The dogs have plenty of room. Good ventilation,” he said. “A lot of the dogs have a better life here for a couple of days then some of the homes they come out of, and that’s really sad.”

Purol is an independent contractor hired by the city of Dunkirk. He was reprimanded by the city years ago for using a private dumpster to dispose of a dog that was already dead. Purol works alone, spending some of his own dime and time to care for the building and the animals. He has no set hours, and works on call.
“If I can’t find the owner right away, I bring it down here, I then take a picture and put it on Facebook, in the newspaper and on the radio and if it’s got a tag I track it down,” he said. “Could it use improvements? Sure. You could see I’m doing a little painting right now just to make it more beautiful, just to make the citizens happy. The dogs don’t care that it’s painted, but the people want to see it pretty.”
Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas toured the facility Monday, and said he believed the conditions were adequate for its purpose.

“If I felt the conditions here were not adequate, then we would stop providing the services to the city,” Rosas said. “And we would go straight to the SPCA (in Jamestown).

“We’re going to be looking at upgrades, maybe adding a window or two for better ventilation,” he added. “But again, this is a very temporary shelter for dogs.”

Rosas said the city has already received some interest from people volunteering their time and money to improve the temporary shelter. Those interested can contact the Dunkirk City Clerk’s office, or call (716) 366-0452. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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