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      Oneida County remains without animal cruelty investigator despite pleas from animal advocates

      It appears Oneida County will remain without a humane officer despite several attempts by animal advocates to get one.

      More than 2500 animals come through the Stevens Swan Humane Society in Utica every year. Some are lost pets, others were abandoned but some are victims of abuse. Last year, staff at Stevens Swan nursed a young pit bull named Apollo back to health after he was found frozen to the ground outside a Utica bar. Abuse cases in Oneida County are usually handled by local police - but Jerry Kraus from Stevens Swan recently appealed to lawmakers to restore the county wide animal cruelty investigator position that was eliminated in 2005.

      "If we really start prosecuting more, really getting the word out there that - hey, we've got a county investigator dedicated to coming after these people that abuse animals - I think the rate of abuse would go down as well," said Kraus.

      Kraus says not only would an animal cruelty investigator be able to focus on animal cases, but that investigator could focus on the complex New York State Agriculture and Markets laws that cover animal abuse.

      "Somebody that deals with it on a day to day basis - imagine how much more efficient that would be," said Kraus.

      Kraus says lawmakers have told him the county is dealing with it's own budget problems and it is unlikely funds will be available to restore the position this year.

      When the position was eliminated in 2005, the animal cruelty investigator was a full time position with a salary of $37,000.

      Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente told the Utica Observer-Dispatch it is unlikely the position will be added anytime soon. Picente has not yet returned our calls.