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News From January, 2011

01-31-11 -- Indiana County Woman Charged After 4 Dogs Found Dead
By:  WPXI News

INDIANA COUNTY, Pa. -- An Indiana County woman is charged with animal cruelty after four dogs were found dead at a home along Millstone Road.

An emaciated chocolate Lab was found frozen to its outdoor cage, while a Great Dane, shih tzu and a mixed breed were huddled together inside the garage where they starved to death.

Michelle Trayer said she moved out of the home and thought her ex-boyfriend would take care of the animals. The director of the Indiana County Humane Society said no one fed the dogs or even checked on them.

"It brings tears to your eyes. There’s no reason for it. The Humane Society would have helped her, as far as food, we would have taken the animals in here, they were highly adoptable,” said Lisa Weir.

Trayer said it became too difficult and expensive to care for her pets. The Humane Society pointed out that three of the dogs died right next to a box that held a 42-inch HD plasma television.

"There's no excuse for it, like I can't sit here and make up an excuse," Trayer said. “I didn't mean for it to be like this."

The Humane Society also found a pony running loose on the property. Trayer signed over the rights to that animal and the Humane Society wants to find it a new home.


01-28-11 -- Young Man Pleads Guilty In Llama Death
By:  WTAE Pittsburgh

NEW STANTON, Pa. -- A young man has pleaded guilty in connection with the fatal shooting of a llama on a family farm near New Stanton, Westmoreland County.

Channel 4 Action News' Jennifer Miele reported Cody Steiner, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count each of cruelty to animals and criminal mischief.

Judge Debra Pezze sentenced Steiner to two years probation. Steiner also paid $5,000 in restitution for the llama that was shot in October.

A juvenile who is accused of shooting another llama on Jan Merlino's property near Delmont will go to court next month, Miele reported

"When you go over and over and over the story, the memories don't go away," Merlino said. "Once the two hearings are over, I will be so glad this is going to be put to rest."

Steiner said he and friends were spotting deer when they got the urge to shoot something. He confessed to using a rifle to kill Nancy Kravetz's llama, and said he then handed the rifle to his juvenile friend.

In November, Steiner told Channel 4 Action News, "I feel horrible about what happened. I mean, it was a dumb idea. It was stupid for us to do. It was immature. It was childish."

Merlino was in court Wednesday for Steiner's hearing. He said two years of probation is not enough, and he told Miele that animal cruelty laws should be stronger and carry stiffer penalties.

"We need to do something about this. We really do. This is becoming too common, and people are just doing it. Maybe we need to punish them harder," Merlino said.


01-28-11 -- Man Charged with Leaving Puppy in Vacant Home to Die
By:  Manuel Gamiz Jr., The Morning Call

An Allentown man is being charged with leaving a pit bull puppy in a vacant home to die, the Lehigh County Humane Society said in a news release Friday.

Danny Rivera, no age provided, is facing three counts of animal cruelty, officer Bill Hallahan with the Humane Society said.

Hallahan said in December he was called to a home at 6th and Allen streets after new tenants who were cleaning out a garage discovered the remains of a dead puppy. An investigation revealed that Rivera moved out of the home and left a 6-month old puppy in a locked storage bin in the garage, he said.

If he's found guilty on all counts, Rivera faces up to a year in jail and more than $2,200 in fines.


01-27-11 -- Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter Fundraiser
By:  Jim Tuttle, Public Opinion Online

CHAMBERSBURG -- All the basset puppies seized from a Fayetteville area house two weeks ago have found new homes, within days of being offered for adoption.

Meanwhile, Franklin County Humane Officer Floyd "Buck" Hessler filed a total of 48 summary counts of animal cruelty Wednesday against the homeowners, David and Peri Flory. The Florys intend to view the charges and possibly enter a plea today.

Nine of the 13 seized puppies became available for adoption Saturday. Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter was inundated with interested people, said shelter spokesperson Jennifer Vanderau.

"It was almost standing room only out here. It was pretty crazy," she said.

As of Wednesday, the shelter had processed 35 adoption applications and received nearly 200 phone calls about the bassets, she said.

Four puppies that are too young to be separated from their mother remain at the shelter, but have now been spoken for, Vanderau said. Since the shelter received more applications than there were puppies, adoption was done on a "first-approved, first-served" basis.

Ten adult dogs seized from the Flory home, 617 Brookens Road in Greene Township, still remain at the shelter. Vanderau said they will likely become available within the next few weeks, pending their recovery from being spayed and neutered.

Anyone who submitted an approved application but did not get a puppy will be given the first opportunity to adopt an adult, the oldest of which is less than 4 years old.

"They all seem to be just happy-go-lucky, tail-wagging kind of dogs," Vanderau said. "For the most part, their temperament is very sweet once they get to know you."

While many of the people who visited the shelter to see the bassets were unable to leave with one, at least three people adopted another dog from the shelter. "It was certainly a busier Saturday than what we are used to," Vanderau said.

Hessler seized 23 dogs, most of them basset hounds, from inside the Flory home on Jan. 14. He also seized the remains of a dead dog he found outside, which the Florys said had recently died of old age.

He has since filed 24 summary counts of cruelty against David and the same number of charges against Peri Flory. The charges allege that their dogs we forced to live in unsanitary conditions.

"The defendants failed to clean up feces and urine throughout the house" for between two and three years, according to the citations. Hessler said he found layers of animal waste and refuse "8-20 inches deep in the house and basement."

Hessler said that if the Florys are found guilty, he is asking the judge to order about $900 in restitution for the cost of vaccinations and flea medication used on the seized dogs. He is also asking for the minimum fine of $50 per citation, and that the couple be temporarily prohibited from owning any animals.

Each summary charge of animal cruelty carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and fines of between $50 and $750. Each citation can also carry prohibition of animal ownership for up to 90 days.

Before he filed the charges, Hessler spoke with the couple, who have been "very cooperative" throughout the process, he said.

"There's no confrontation. They're very calm and very polite," Hessler said.

In a previous interview, the Florys said they had not been letting the dogs outside to relieve themselves because of an ongoing dispute with several of their neighbors.

On the same day Hessler seized their dogs, a code inspector visited the Flory house and condemned it. They have since begun the process of cleaning up the mess.

David Flory said Wednesday they have already had two large trash bins at the house, and have hired a contractor to help with the job. He and his wife do not intend to live in the house again.

He declined to comment on the cruelty charges, but said they plan to visit the judge's office today to pick up Hessler's citations.

The The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter is hosting its sixth annual Puppy Love Pasta Dinner from 4 to 8 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Chambersburg Area Middle School, 1151 E. McKinley St.

Tickets are $5 in advance, or $7 at the door.

Members of the Chambersburg Fire Department will also be there with demonstrations and safety tips for people and their pets. For more information or for tickets, call the shelter at 263-5791.


01-27-11 -- Animal Cruelty Suspects Wanted
By:  Philadelphia Daily News

Animal-cruelty agents found dogfighting paraphernalia, cash, a gun and a large stash of drugs, along with two injured dogs, at a house in Nicetown. The home's two occupants are sought on cruelty charges.

Pennsylvania SPCA law-enforcement officers, armed with a search warrant, seized the dogs - one with numerous scars and the other with a fresh neck wound from being chained - Monday from the home, on Juniata street near Newhall.

George Bengal, Humane Law Enforcement director for the PSPCA, said authorities were searching for Jasmine Clark, age unknown, and Carlton Brown, 26, for animal cruelty. Brown also is wanted by Philadelphia police in connection with other crimes and was under house arrest on drug-related charges, Bengal said.

"Our officers are reviewing the evidence discovered in this case to identify other participants in a possible dogfighting ring," Bengal said.

Anyone with information in the case may call the PSPCA's 24-hour hot line at 866-601-7722.


01-25-11 -- Four Dogs Rescued From Blaze
Fire heavily damages kennel and grooming business in Larksville
By:  Edward Lewis, The Times Leader

LARKSVILLE – Firefighters battled frigid temperatures and saved four dogs when flames erupted inside Valley Dog, a kennel and grooming business at 213 Luzerne Ave. early Monday morning.

Deputy Fire Chief Mike Petriga said he entered the burning and smoke-filled building with five firefighters searching the kennels for any dogs. They found four canines that they carried out.

“You couldn’t see four inches in front of you, that’s how much smoke was in there,” Petriga said.

The dogs were taken by Edwardsville police to the Plains Animal Hospital in Plains Township, where they were given oxygen.

“They were fine; they smelled a little smoky, but just as a precaution, they put them on oxygen,” said Valley Dog partner/co-owner Janine Krystofosky.

Firefighters responded to Valley Dog just before 1 a.m. at a time when, according to the National Weather Service, the temperature was 1 degree above zero and dropping.

Water runoff quickly froze, turning the parking lot into an ice rink. It took firefighters about an hour to bring the fire under control and to extinguish hot spots.

No injuries were reported.

State police deputy fire marshal Trooper Ron Jarocha listed the cause of the fire as undetermined. The fire is not considered suspicious.

The interior of the kennel business was heavily damaged by flames and smoke.

Krystofosky said the four dogs that were saved were the only ones in the kennels. If the fire broke out during the holiday season or during the summer, the kennels would have been filled, Krystofosky said, noting there were 51 dogs boarded Christmas week.

“This typically is our slow time,” Krystofosky said. “Our business picks up in March.”

When firefighters carried the dogs outside, Krystofosky ran up to the firefighters to hug them.

“I had no thoughts, my mind went completely blank because I was worried about the dogs,” she said. “We had another kennel, Kunkle Kennels, come down and offer their assistance if we need help in boarding dogs.”

Krystofosky said she expects the business to be closed as repairs are made.

“We will rebuild, and we’ll be back better than ever,” she said.


01-24-11 -- Learning Success with 'Need in Deed'
Fifth-graders considered three issues of interest and voted to study animal cruelty
By:  Ann Rappoport, Chestnut Hill Patch

Can already-stretched public school classrooms improve test scores and tackle social issues?  

When they’re working with the Chestnut Hill-based nonprofit organization, Need in Deed, the answer is yes.

"Need in Deed brings learning to the classroom that the students wouldn’t get elsewhere,” said Anna B. Day School fifth grade teacher, Carla Russell. “This isn’t in textbooks.”

Anna B. Day is a public school located in Mt. Airy serving Headstart through 8th grade students. Russell, along with seventh grade teacher Andrea Caison, are among the 80 teachers and 1,600 students with whom Need in Deed is working locally this school year.

“We’re not foregoing the curriculum. We’re covering all the skills mandated, but there’s more learning out of it," Caison said. "It’s more real to the students."

Need in Deed (NID) has offices on the second floor of a building at 8616 Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. NID has been evolving since its founding in 1987 to use classroom-initiated service learning strategies to “prepare young people for civic responsibility and service to others,” according to its mission statement.

Classes select a social issue to work on all year long.

Russell’s fifth-graders considered three issues of interest, including animal cruelty, child abuse and childhood cancer. They voted to study animal cruelty.

“They want to help make a difference,” Russell said.

NID students read articles and find Web sites with information on the topic. Need in Deed facilitates visits to the classroom by outside experts in the topics selected.

“The students are so excited. They all want to be part of the project, to get their message out,” Russell said.

She said their study is opening the students’ eyes to different ways society treats animals, making them more observant and aware of actions they’d never thought about before.

The seventh graders in Caison’s class selected the topic of drug violence. They have several partnerships with community organizations working in this field, courtesy of Need in Deed.  

For instance, former drug user and dealer Joe Davis visited the students in his wheelchair. He talks to young people about the poor choices he’d made as a youth and the lifelong consequences.

Another classroom visitor is active in Freedom House, a support and recovery program for people with addiction.

FBI Agent Greg Branch has also met with Caison’s students. In addition to discussing the problem of drugs in the community, Branch entertained students’ questions about careers in law enforcement and the FBI. 

The students keep a journal, where they write notes and questions as the project develops.

Caison admits she doesn’t yet know how the project will play out, since the students will determine from their research what they want to do to address their social issue. But she said she isn’t too worried about the sharing of “control” with them.

“It’s really amazing how much the students contribute to their learning process,” Caison said. “They’re focused–really on task. This way they have ownership in the educational process.”

“In an age of standardized testing and the focus on scores, we make sure that other skills and capabilities to become rounded members of society are also addressed,” said Need in Deed’s associate director, Ena Rosen.

Rosen is pleased that an external evaluation has recently confirmed previous successes of Need in Deed’s practices and outcomes. Measuring NID students against control groups in 2009, Research for Action, (a Philadelphia-based nonprofit educational research group), found positive effects on school performance among the students participating in Need in Deed. 

Elementary students involved with NID had fewer suspensions, higher math scores on PSSAs, (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests), and better understanding of cause and effect than other students.

Middle and high school students similarly had higher math and reading scores, as well as stronger relationships with teachers and peers when they were involved with NID, Rosen reported.

Need in Deed supports teachers in this endeavor with multiple layers of professional development and technical assistance.

Through funders and grants primarily, NID provides teachers new to the program with training, professional development compensation, and lots of connections and guidance, Rosen said.

A core group of “Experienced Network Members” then stays affiliated with NID, serving as advisory committee members and conducting their own research through a professional inquiry group. A number of NID teachers present their work at major conferences.

“It’s so heartening for us to see that commitment–that professional learning community,” Rosen said.

This year is Andrea Caison’s 14th year in the classroom and Carla Russell is in her 15th year of teaching. Both are in their first year working with NID.

“Need in Deed is phenomenal," Caison said. "They give us the resources we need."

“The learning is extraordinary," Russell added. "Need in Deed should be part of every school."


01-21-11 -- Man Not Charged In Connection With Fire
By:  Dan Rinkus, WFMZ

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Police said a man has not been charged with having too many animals in his home following a fire.

More than dozen animals died last month in a fire at Joseph Mayer's home on Ivanhoe Road in Bethlehem.

Police originally said Mayer was charged with having too many animals. But they said there was a misunderstanding and that's not the case.

Mayer did plead guilty in 2009 to animal cruelty violations at his farm in Lower Nazareth Township. He was also convicted of animal cruelty charges in 2005.


01-21-11 -- Fire Guts Shelter; Dozens Of Animals Displaced
By:  Stephanie Esposito, WFMZ

PINE GROVE, Pa. -- Fire tore through an animal shelter early Friday morning, displacing 60 cats and five dogs.

Two parrots were killed in the fire at the Ruth Steinert SPCA in Pine Grove, Schuylkill County.

Now, animal officials in Berks County are helping their neighbors to the north.

Employees at the shelter were getting ready to open Friday morning when they realized the building was on fire.

"Pretty devastating blaze from what we understand and pretty much gutted the structure," said Dylan Heckart, the director of development and public relations for the Humane Society of Berks County.

"I was told when the fire started they were just putting the cats outside free, just to get them out of the fire," said Harry Brown, executive direcotr, Berks County Animal Rescue League. "After everything calmed down, they went around to gather them up."

All the employees, plus the 60 Cats and five dogs, made it out safely.

The five dogs were taken to the Hillside SPCA in Schuylkill County.

The Berks County Animal Rescue League couldn't bear the thought of the homeless cats being truly homeless, so they now have 25 new feline friends.

The Humane Society of Berks County took two cats.

"The more cats we get out this weekend, the more we can help next week in Schuylkill County," said Heckart.

Both the Animal Rescue League and the Humane Society in Berks County said the Schuylkill County cats will be available for adoption early next week.

As for the fire, authorities told 69 News it is still under investigation.

To donate to the rebuilding of the Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA, click here.

To adopt a cat displaced from the fire, contact the Animal Rescue League of Berks County or the Humane Society of Berks County

To adopt a dog displaced in the fire, contact the Hillside SPCA.


01-20-11 -- Fayetteville Couple Faces 48 Counts of Cruelty
By:  Jim Tuttle, Public Opinion Online

FAYETTEVILLE - A Fayetteville couple will face 48 counts of animal cruelty for allegedly allowing their 24 hound dogs to live in unsanitary conditions that a humane officer described as "horrendous."

"This is truly the worst case I've seen in Franklin County in nearly six years of doing this," said Franklin County Humane Police Officer Floyd "Buck" Hessler.

On Friday, Hessler seized 23 dogs, most of them basset hounds, that had been living inside the home of David and Peri Flory at 617 Brookens Road in Greene Township. He also seized the remains of a dead dog he found outside, which the Florys said had recently died of old age.

The seized dogs, many of them puppies, are now at Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter. Hessler said the couple has signed over ownership of the dogs, so new homes can eventually be found for them.

According to CVAS spokesperson Jennifer Vanderau, 13 puppies will soon be spayed and neutered, and may be available for adoption as early as Saturday.

Hessler said he intends to file 24 summary counts of cruelty against David and the same number of charges against Peri Flory. If they are found guilty, he also intends to ask the judge to prohibit the couple from owning any animals "for a time period set by the court."

Each summary charge of animal cruelty carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and fines of between $50 and $750. Prohibition of animal ownership is another possible penalty, Hessler said.

He said the floor inside the home was covered with "multiple inches" of layered feces, clothing and other items.

"There was dogs feces and urine completely throughout the whole house. In the basement, the first level and upstairs. Completely, in every room in the house," he said. "You could not walk or sit anywhere without touching feces or urine."

In an interview Friday, the Florys told Public Opinion that they had not been letting the dogs outside to "relieve themselves" because of an ongoing dispute with several of their neighbors.

Because of the extent of the mess and the "possibility of diseases," Hessler said he decided to contact the Greene Township supervisors. A code inspector subsequently came to the house and determined it should be condemned.

Multiple phone calls Wednesday to Dave Jamison, chairman of the Greene Township Board of Supervisors, were not returned. Efforts to reach a building code official with Commonwealth Code Inspection Service, Inc., were also unsuccessful.

Hessler said the seizure was made significantly easier by the assistance of Trooper Steve Rowe and Trooper Lindsay Trace of Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg.

"They went above and beyond their call of duty," he said. "They didn't have to go in that house with me, but they went in and helped me retrieve these dogs."

He said the troopers' uniforms and boots were soiled with dog urine and feces, and have been bagged and sent to Harrisburg to either be cleaned or replaced. His own soiled uniform was also taken for cleaning.

"It was on my coat, my tie. It was everywhere," he said.


01-20-11 --  DELCO SPCA Goes "No Kill" in 2012
By:  Shirleen Allicot, Channel 6/ABC Philadelphia

CHESTER, Pa. - January 20, 2011 (WPVI) -- What to do with the thousands of unwanted dogs that are found every year may be a predicament in Delaware County.

The county SPCA is no longer euthanizing, and that means municipalities have to devise their own plan to reduce the stray pet population.

One little pit bull lab mix was picked up Thursday by Animal Control Officer Dave Schlott; she's just one of many dogs Schlott has been seeing throughout the 12 Delaware County municipalities he covers, especially in the city of Chester.

"There's just so many strays. It's basically out of control," Schlott said.

But soon, animals like the pit bull lab won't be getting dropped off at the Delaware County SPCA, because they have decided to become a no kill facility, and that means they will no longer be offering animal control services to municipalities come July.

"We released our decision to go in a new direction back in July of 2010, so they've had a good 6 or 7 months so far, and they'll have a good year to figure out a plan," said Justina Calgiano.

This means all 49 municipalities throughout the county have to find a home for all 7,000 strays that pop up every year.

It's left officials like Edgemont Township Manager Samantha Reiner envisioning the worse.

"I picture golfers out on the Edgemont Country Club golf course being approached by wild hungry dogs for their burrito that's back in the golf cart," Reiner said.

Tom Hickey, Sr. of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board says the issue isn't the fact the SPCA no longer wants to euthanize animals that come through their doors. For them the issue is time.

"All we're saying is we need more time, we need to put a process in place that will work, we can't do this with a gun to our head," Hickey said.

But Calgiano says they've all been given ample time thus far and they won't be giving any more extensions.

"There could have been a plan put in place. We feel that if we gave them an extension, it would compromise our organizations' plan to go no kill by July of 2012," said Calgiano.

Since the SPCA is not going to budge, the municipalities have less than 6 months to devise a plan.


01-18-11 -- Redding Loses State Post
Gov. Tom Corbett still to appoint agriculture chief and four other cabinet positions.
By:  Steve Marroni, The Evening Sun

The Adams County man who has served as Pennsylvania's secretary of agriculture since September 2009 will not be reappointed to the post by the new governor.

As Gov. Tom Corbett was inaugurated yesterday, Russell C. Redding, of Aspers, ended a 16-year career with the department.

The new governor has, so far, not retained any of the previous administration's cabinet secretaries. A new secretary of agriculture is among five cabinet officials still to be named.

Until a new secretary is named, Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Nicole Bucher said Deputy Secretary Michael Pechart will serve as the acting secretary of agriculture.

She said the department found out on Tuesday that Redding would not continue as secretary, and she referred further comment to the governor's communication office.

No one was available for comment at that office because of the inauguration.

Redding could not be reached Tuesday for comment. His assistant, Jean Lonie, said he was spending time with his family.

She said he is no longer with the Department of Agriculture.

Gov. Ed Rendell nominated Redding to replace former Secretary Dennis Wolff in 2009.

Redding, born in 1959, grew up on his parents' dairy farm in Aspers. He graduated from Gettysburg Area High School, and went to Penn State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in science and a master's in agricultural education.

After college, he worked as an agricultural policy adviser and executive assistant for Sen. Harris Wofford. Redding then joined the Department of Agriculture in April 1995 as deputy secretary, and was named executive deputy secretary in 2003.

He also was active with the Future Farmers of America and Upper Adams County 4-H.

Upon his appointment, Rendell said, "Russell is one of the most respected individuals in Pennsylvania agriculture today."

Rendell said Redding was active in the agricultural community, and incredibly knowledgeable of agriculture policies at the state and federal levels.


C. Alan Walker Secretary of Community and Economic Development

Stephen Aichele General Counsel

Michael F. Consedine Insurance Commissioner

John Wetzel Secretary of Corrections

Barry Schoch Secretary of Transportation

Carol Aichele Secretary of the Commonwealth

Sheri Phillips Secretary of General Services

Glenn Cannon Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director

Eli Avila Secretary of Health

Glenn Moyer Secretary of Banking

Charles Zogby Secretary of the Budget

Michael Krancer Secretary of Environmental Protection

Frank Noonan State Police Commissioner

Kenya Mann Faulkner Inspector General

Gary D. Alexander Secretary of Public Welfare

Dan Meuser Secretary of Revenue

Kelly Powell Logan Secretary of Administration

Ronald D. Tomalis Secretary of Education


Secretary of Aging

Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources

Secretary of Labor & Industry

Secretary of Agriculture

Adjutant General of Military & Veterans Affairs


01-17-11 -- Woman Says Neighbor Let Puppy Starve, Freeze To Death

BULLSKIN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Amy Weimer of Bullskin Township claims her neighbor let his puppy starve and freeze to death.

Weimer told Channel 11 that the 6-month-old Boxer/Lab mix's only shelter was a little box.

She said she confronted her neighbor.

"I said, `Is he dead,' and he said `I didn't know what to do. I didn't have food or anything.' I said `What do you mean? All you had to do was ask somebody. I would have taken him in the evenings to get him out the cold and given you a blanket. I have dog food,'" said Weimer.

Channel 11 went to the neighbor's house to get his side of the story but no one was home.

Being an animal lover, Weimer made the neighbor give her the puppy's body.

"You could tell he hadn't eaten because you could literally see the bones," said Weimer.

Humane officers plan to investigate the case.


01-16-11 -- Ex-pig Farmer to Pay $2,500 in Fines for Dead Pigs
By:  Jim Tuttle, Public Opinion Online

FULTON COUNTY - A man charged with 832 counts of animal cruelty in connection with dead pigs found on a Fulton County Farm in November pleaded guilty to 10 counts and was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.

The remaining 822 summary charges against Daniel Lee Clark Sr., 47, now of Clearspring, Md., were dropped and no other penalty was imposed.

"A deal was worked out," said Clark's attorney, Clint Barkdoll .

The fine works out to $3 per dead pig.

Clark entered his plea and was sentenced to pay the fine during an apparently unscheduled appearance before Magisterial District Judge Carol Johnson on Jan. 7.

Barkdoll said he and Clark, Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall and the judge were the only people present for the proceedings. The event is listed in online court documents as a "summary trial."

"The plan was not to go in there and have a trial that day. The plan was that he was showing up to enter his pleas on all 832 counts. He would have pled not guilty to 832 counts and it would have moved on to a trial," Barkdoll said.

That plan changed after Kendall offered to drop the majority of the charges in exchange for a guilty plea on 10 of them, Barkdoll said.

"Clark made the decision to enter this plea and move forward with this disposition that day, after showing up at (Judge Johnson's) court in Needmore," Barkdoll said.

A telephone call and an e-mail to Kendall were not returned Friday.

Clark entered an open plea, meaning there was no prior agreement about the sentence he might receive, Barkdoll said. The maximum penalty for a conviction on 10 counts of animal cruelty is 900 days in jail and a fine of $7,500.

Before Johnson ruled on a sentence, Clark explained that the pigs on what was then his Warfordsburg farm died in February, 2009, as the result of an "agricultural disaster."

The farm's two hog barns are "graduated," with one located at a higher elevation above the other, Barkdoll said. Metal grates in the floor of each building allowed animal waste to drop into an underground pipe system that connects both buildings and drains downhill into a manure pit.

The system is designed to drain when a set of plugs are pulled out of the pipes, allowing the material to flow into the pit. Barkdoll said the system malfunctioned one day after the plugs were pulled.

After the plugs were pulled, Clark reportedly discovered that manure was draining freely from under the upper barn, but a blockage in the system was preventing it from flowing out into the pit.

"When he checked on it, there was several feet of manure in the lower barn," Barkdoll said.

While he managed to get some of the pigs out of the muck and into the upper barn, many of them died before anything could be done, Barkdoll said.

"These pigs drowned. That's what killed them," he said. "There was no evidence, forensic or otherwise, that they starved."

Barkdoll said Clark, who has been a pig farmer for more than 30 years, was "devastated" by the flooding incident. "These pigs were his livelihood. This is all he's known his whole life," he said.

He said his client estimates the monetary loss at between $20,000 and $25,000.

According to police charging documents, Clark acknowledged that he did not call or ask anyone for help when the pigs were in peril. As a result, the animals died eventually of "drowning, freezing and hypothermia."

"In retrospect, he should have made a call," Barkdoll said. "His failure to do that rose to the level of culpability, to the tune of 10 counts of animal cruelty."

Dennis Bumbaugh, a Pennsylvania Humane Police Officer with Better Days Animal League, told Public Opinion in interviews for previous stories that he saw no evidence of a manure system malfunction in the barns.

Hundreds of carcasses were found on the property Nov. 8, when Bumbaugh arrived to investigate. Daniel Clark's estranged wife, Kerron Clark, reportedly learned of the dead pigs the previous day, after a potential buyer visited the farm and reported them to her Realtor.

Bumbaugh reported that it was an apparent case of neglect and that the pigs had been abandoned to die. He said carcasses were found in both barns, and outside.

Efforts to reach Bumbaugh on Friday were unsuccessful.

Barkdoll said there were only "four or five" carcasses found in the upper barn. He said those were animals that his client removed from the flooded barn, but later died because they were "compromised" by their exposure to the flood of waste.

He also said that reports of farm equipment blocking access to the barns were not true, and that "claw marks" reportedly seen inside the barns were caused by Clark's dog several years prior.

"There were a handful of things that were de-bunked," Barkdoll said.

The attorney said he has personally visited the farm.

"You could still see the stains on the walls where this manure piled up," he said. "There's also a thick cake of dried manure left on the grates."

When Bumbaugh arrived at the farm, there were no automatic feeding and watering systems to be found.

Barkdoll said his client removed that equipment in the months after the pigs died, to facilitate cleanup. He said Clark had been in the process of composting and incinerating the carcasses on the property before he left and the farm's ownership was transferred entirely to Kerron Clark.

Asked why his client failed to clean up the pig carcasses for nearly two years, Barkdoll said it likely had to do with issues in his personal life including an ongoing, reportedly contentious divorce. "That was probably not really high on his agenda," he said.

The pigs that survived the manure flood were raised and eventually sold at market, Barkdoll said.

"He continued to operate for at least several months" after the manure system malfunction, he said.

At Bumbaugh's request, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent a team to help investigate what had happened at the farm. The results of that investigation were forwarded to the district attorney, according to ASPCA spokesperson Emily Brand.

Contacted for comment on the outcome of the case Friday, Brand said she and the lead investigator were unable to discuss it with confirmation about the outcome from the investigator's "sources."

A phone call to PIGS Animal Sanctuary, a West Virginia organization reportedly involved in the investigation, was not returned.

Clark was advised by another attorney not to speak directly to the media about the pig case due to ongoing litigation related to his divorce and child custody matters, Barkdoll said.

Clark is now farming pigs in Clearspring, Md.

"He's just trying to move on with his life and get this behind him," Barkdoll said. "This has been a very difficult process for him, and I think it has changed him profoundly."

Clark cleaned up the mummified carcasses himself.


01-12-11 --Steve Courson Humane Society Shuttered
By:  Liz Zemba, Tribune Review

An animal shelter in Fayette County has been shut down after failing two state inspections, an official said.

The Steve Courson Humane Society, also known as the Humane Society of Fayette County, failed the inspections in November and December, said Nicole Cullison Bucher, acting press secretary for the Department of Agriculture.

Bucher said the shelter on North Gallatin Avenue in North Union was closed for "bad kennel conditions." The department's website indicates the closure was "enforcement related." Bucher had no information regarding the specific kennel conditions that forced the closure.

A note taped to the front door of the kennel indicates the shelter was "closed down" on New Year's Eve. It is signed "management." No one answered a knock at the door, but an SUV was parked out front.

A dog could be heard barking inside the office area of the shelter. A strong odor of urine emanated from the facility.

Howard Springer, a humane agent with the Fayette Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said his agency removed two small dogs and a cat from the shelter on Dec. 30 or Dec. 31. He said the three animals were the last to be taken out of the shelter.

Springer said it appeared a rescue organization had taken the other animals from the shelter before the SPCA was asked to help, but he had no information on the agency. The dogs and cat that his agency rescued are up for adoption through the SPCA, which is on Rankin Air Shaft Road in North Union.

Bruce Minick, a state dog law warden who conducted an earlier inspection in May and four others in 2009, and Harold Walstrom, regional supervisor with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, could not be reached for additional information.

Minick's report of the May inspection, available on the Department of Agriculture's website, indicates the shelter passed and was in compliance with state kennel regulations. Minick reported the same findings following four inspections of the shelter in February, May, July and November 2009.

In December 2008, another dog warden, Bonnie Coleman, issued a warning after inspecting the kennel. Coleman's report indicated kennel support posts were rusty and had sharp edges that could harm dogs and the report noted that lighting in some indoor kennels was too low "to allow for observation of the physical condition" of dogs.

Coleman twice inspected the kennel in January 2009, issuing a second warning on Jan. 5, 2009, when she found some of posts had not been repaired and lighting was still poor. No warnings were issued after Coleman's inspection on Jan. 16, 2009.

The remainder of 2009's inspections were conducted by Minick, according to the online reports. Minick indicated in each report the kennel was in compliance with state regulations.


01-12-11 -- PA Breeder Who Sold Biden a Puppy Loses License
By:  Amy Worden & Kathleen Brady Shea, Phila Inquirer

HARRISBURG - The state has pulled the plug on the Chester County dog breeder who sold Vice President Biden a puppy.

The Agriculture Department revoked the license held by Linda Brown, who operates Jolindy's Shepherds in Spring City, for repeated violations of kennel laws.

In a Nov. 19 order, the agency listed dozens of violations, including filthy kennels, contaminated food and water, and dogs crammed in cages with fewer than six inches of headroom. The agency made the order public this week at The Inquirer's request.

Dog wardens reported seeing dead and dying rats on the property several times. "We have repeated poor kennel conditions there," said Jessie Smith, special deputy secretary of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

Brown's lawyer, Jeff Conrad, has appealed, calling the charges "unfounded and bogus." He said Brown was not given a chance to remedy the problems cited. State officials say they have extensive photo documentation to show Brown ignored their orders.

A hearing on the revocation is set for May 24. Until then, Brown can sell her remaining dogs, but may not breed or acquire new ones. She had 70 when her kennel was last inspected. If the revocation is finalized, she may keep no more than 25.

In an interview Monday, Brown said her troubles with the state began after she sold a German shepherd puppy in 2008 to Biden, then vice president-elect. "Ever since . . . it's been a living hell," she said. "I'm leaving Pennsylvania as soon as possible. I'm done fighting."

A spokeswoman for Biden's office declined comment.


01-12-11 -- Rare Singing Dogs Find New Homes
By:  Roxann Miller, Herald Mail

So far, 62 of the 88 New Guinea Singing Dogs removed from a rural Franklin County, Pa., property in November have found new homes.

Confined within the wire mesh of their outdoor dog run, shy, yet inquisitive Bear and Daisy circled their new home — stopping occasionally to sniff their plastic play set — at the East Coast Exotic Animal Rescue in Fairfield, Pa.

Suzanne Murray, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Adams County, Pa., nonprofit rescue organization, adopted four of the rare dogs after state officials imposed a cease and desist order on Randy Hammond of Fannett Township on Oct. 13.

Murray said she had to do something after seeing a picture of the above-ground, cramped rabbit hutch-like structure that Bear and Daisy were sharing.

"I hate to put anything in a cage, but seeing what they were coming from I knew I could do 100 times better," said Murray, who cares for about 150 animals at her 320 Zoo Road facility.

Bear and Daisy came to the facility on New Year's Day while the less social Bo and Little Miss came to Murray in November.

East Coast Exotic Animal Rescue takes in animals that are no longer wanted by zoos or laboratories as well as people's pets. The facility is open to the public May through October.

What They Found

Nicole Bucher, acting press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, said state officials went to Hammond's property after receiving information about the rare singing dogs on its tip line.

What they found were 88 dogs, including 68 adults and 20 puppies.

She said the conditions were not terrible. But some of the dogs were being housed in barrels, which was not acceptable.

In November, state officials and rescue organizations worked to place the dogs, which is one of the world's rarest dog breeds.

"We were not aware of any other licensed singing dogs in the state before, and worldwide there are less than 100 or 200. So, they are very, very rare," Bucher said.

Tom Wendt of New Guinea Singing Dog International has traveled from Chicago four times, so far, and placed 62 of the 88 singing dogs in private homes, with animal rescues and sanctuaries.

He plans to return to Hammond's home this week to reduce the number of dogs Hammonds owns to no more than the 25 that he is permitted to keep under state regulations.

New Homes

Wendt has found foster homes and adoptive homes for the singing dogs in private residences, animal rescues and sanctuaries in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Washington, California and New Hampshire.

"I never dreamed something like this would happen. There are so few of these to begin with. How could you imagine somebody having 80 of them?" said Wendt.

"They were in cramped outdoor enclosures, but Randy (Hammond) loved his dogs. He fed them everyday and watered them everyday. But, when you have 80 of them, it's kind of hard to keep up with handling the way some of them were living," said Wendt.

Initially, Bucher called Hammond a hoarder — a term that he found offensive.

"Having that many dogs without the ability to take care of that many dogs. I have no heartburn calling him that (a hoarder)," said Bucher.

She said singing dogs are not meant to be pets. Even if someone adopts them as a puppy, they are not for the novice pet owner.

Spaying and neutering began on Nov. 10 for the singing dogs.

Hammond, 58, got his first two dogs, Reba and Elvis, from an exotic animal auction in Ohio in 1995 and that same year he acquired two more dogs, Trigger and Trixie, from a Pennsylvania kennel that was closed by state authorities.

Trigger and Trixie had two females and Elvis and Reba had two males, and Hammond line-bred the dogs rather than in-breeding them, Wendt said.

"One of the reasons that they were spayed and neutered is all of those dogs were born from four animals that he (Hammond) started with. When you have that much in-breeding there can be some genetic anomalies that you wouldn't necessary want to pass on to future generations," Bucher explained.

Hammond will be permitted to keep up to 25 dogs, she said.

Bucher said the Pa. dog law states that you can have 25 dogs or less before you must apply for a kennel license.

According to Bucher, the state filed three charges and Hammond pleaded guilty to all of them.

He was cited for not having dog licenses, operating without a kennel license and no rabies vaccines.

If convicted, Hammond faces fines up to $1,100, according to state officials.

Tremendous Opportunity

Before the discovery in Fannett Township, there were only about 60 singing dogs in captivity in the United States. So, Wendt said this is a tremendous educational opportunity.

"We're trying to raise funds to go to New Guinea and capture a new blood line. These dogs are the closest thing to a wolf genetically on earth. They are actually considered a dingo. I sent eight DNA samples to a fellow in Australia because their DNA is so much different than a domestic dog," said Wendt.

As one of the rarest breeds and one of the oldest, "undiluted" breeds, Wendt is hoping to learn more about the evolution of the dog.

Wendt said if anyone is interested in adopting a singing dog, log onto

"We are going to take a lot of caution in screening people. We don't want an unhappy adopter or an unhappy dog," Wendt said.


01-08-11  Police Have Leads on Possible Owners of Dog Found Dead
By:  Patrick Donlin, Sun Gazette

JERSEY SHORE, PA - Investigative tips have been coming forward about an apparently abused dog corpse found Thursday in the Susquehanna River near Antes Fort, county Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals humane Officer Lawrence D. Woltz said.

A family living in the Cogan Station area has identified the dog, a white German shepherd, as theirs that ran away last week, Woltz said Friday.

Although the dog carcass had no collar, microchip or tattoo, Woltz said the alleged owner told him they can identify distinctive markings on the animal's body.

If they do positively identify the dog, Woltz said he will return it for burial.

Woltz said it remains unknown who "hogtied" a clothesline rope around the dog's muzzle and neck, connecting it to a cement block that apparently was thrown about 100 feet off the Joseph B. Grieco Bridge and into the river below.

Although Woltz said he has some leads about who may have abused the dog in such a manner, no suspects have been charged.

It remains unknown if the dog was killed before it was thrown into the water.

Besides the Cogan Station family, Woltz said some Jersey Shore area residents have informed him about a white German shepherd in their neighborhood that has gone missing.

Woltz said he plans to interview the Jersey Shore residents about their claim.


01-04-11 -- Hearing Postponed in Animal Cruelty Case
By:  Observer-Reporter

A hearing was postponed Monday for a Fallowfield Township man accused of starving to death his two pit bulls while they were locked in cages.

District Judge Larry Hopkins postponed the preliminary hearing to allow the defendant, Stanley McDonald, 24, more time to hire an attorney.

McDonald, of 58 Wheatley Road, is charged with cruelty to animals by Charleroi police, who found the decomposed animals Nov. 15 in a borough house at 802 Rear Second St., where he kept his pets.

Officer Michael Carcella said in court Monday that a neighbor, Lisa Perry, said she hadn't seen anyone at the house for two weeks and began to smell a foul odor in the area a short time later.

Humane police Officer Cathy T. Cunningham said she took the remains to a veterinarian who determined the animals had already been malnourished when they were left without food or water.

McDonald sat in court shaking his head and then cried before Hopkins continued his hearing.

Hopkins rescheduled the hearing for 9 a.m. Jan. 27.


01-04-11 -- Bethlehem Man with History Faces New Charges Following Fire
By:  Lehigh Valley Live/Express TImes Staff and Wire

A 60-year-old Bethlehem man convicted of cruelty to animals faces new charges related to a fatal fire at his home last month.

Fire officials said 24 animals perished in the Dec. 27 blaze -- 15 birds, three cats, three dogs, two rabbits and a chinchilla -- at Joseph Mayer's 2803 Ivanhoe Road home. Several other animals kept in the home survived the fire.

Mayer's attorney, Scott Wilhelm, said a representative from the Northampton County District Attorney's Office called and told him new charges would be filed against his client. Bethlehem authorities today charged Mayer with keeping more animals than allowed by city law.

No one in the district attorney's office was available for comment.

A court order from 2009 barred Mayer from owning certain types of animals. Wilhelm said today that he is not certain of the order's details. He added that the timing of the court order and when Mayer bought the animals may determine if his client violated the order.

The order was part of a guilty plea Mayer entered into in order to avoid jail time.

"The question is whether (Mayer) violated the terms of the pet exclusion," Wilhelm said, adding that he understood that his client was forced to surrender his horses.

Mayer was convicted of animal cruelty in 2001, 2005 and 2009 for conditions he kept horses, ponies and other animals on a farm he owns in Lower Nazareth Township.

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was not immediately available for comment today.