WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jeff Garnsey, who runs an animal sanctuary in the town of Clayton, has been charged with illegal possession of wildlife under New York State Environmental Conservation law.
Garnsey says that getting the citation 10 days after Tryian the squirrel was taken away adds insult to injury.
Jeff Garnsey takes care of 34 animals at his animal sanctuary.
Last month one of his animals, Tyrian, was taken away by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because a squirrel is considered a wild animal.
“It’s more of a gut check then you could ever possibly be ready for and it completely hit me out of the blue,” said Garnsey.
Tryian is now getting care from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and eventually will be released into the wild.
To try to get Tyrian back, Garnsey applied to have the squirrel federally recognized as an emotional support animal. He was approved.
But the DEC gets a final say on whether or not Tyrian gets to goes home.
In statement, the DEC said, “The emotional support animal legislation requires that the animal be owned by the individual. No individual, including Mr. Garnsey, can legally own wildlife.”
On Wednesday, Garnsey was charged with illegal possession of wildlife. He says he was told by officers he couldn’t have contact with Tyrian or his rehabilitator.
“You can only put up with so many days of not sleeping more than an hour or two. I would feel much better if I knew he was safe and sound,” said Garnsey.
Garnsey says he has done good things for the community, even winning Clayton Citizen of the Year. He will appear in court in August.
“Now I’m going to be standing in front of the judge that shook my hand at the citizen of the year banquet defending the fact that they are correct,” he said.
Garnsey said if there is another road he can go down to bring Tyrian home, he will try until somebody tells him he can’t go any further. He also says he doesn’t care how much money it costs.