News From October, 2010
10-30-10 -- If Dogs Could Vote... This Tuesday, Vote CASORIO
By: Jenny Stephens, North Penn Puppy Mill Watch
It's great to have friends in high places... if you're a dog in Pennsylvania, let's face it... it's great to have a friend at all.
That said, do you or someone you know live in one of the following zip code areas?
If so, you need to get out on Tuesday and help re-elect Jim Casorio (D-Westmoreland) to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Over the last several years, Jim Casorio has been a steadfast friend of the dogs in the commonwealth. Not only did he help to introduce PA's new Dog Law but, in 2008 when the bill came up for a vote on the House floor, Jim combatted and defeated amendment after amendment created to weaken the laws that were designed to protect dogs trapped in puppy mills.
Later, when parts of the new law came under attack again, Jim was there issuing press releases and doing what he could to ensure that the law, as passed, remained intact and strong.
If you care about companion animals, you can't afford NOT to have Representative Casorio re-elected to continue fighting for the passage of laws that are designed to ensure the health and welfare of our four (and sometimes two) legged friends.
This Tuesday when you vote, please take a moment to think of the animals who can not speak (let alone vote) and rely on humans to help them.
Pull the lever for CASORIO and allow him to continue being their voice.
10-27-10 -- Man Who Killed Two Dogs Gets Probation
By: Elizabeth Evans, The York Dispatch
Legal ambiguity has led to probation for a man who shot three of his dogs in the kitchen of his Seven Valleys home, killing two of them.
Carl Herbert Kline, 50, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, senior deputy prosecutor David Sunday said.
Kline pleaded guilty Oct. 18 to one count of first-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty, according to court records. In exchange, 14 counts of discharging a firearm in an occupied structure were dismissed.
"Based on the facts of this case, combined with the law as it is currently written, I felt that this was most likely the best outcome possible," Sunday said. "I did everything I could to find something to do with Mr. Kline."
Kline was in the kitchen of his then-home in the first block of Oak Street just before midnight June 27, 2009, when he shot the dogs, according to charging documents filed by state police.
The background: Police were dispatched after a family member called 911 to report Kline was intoxicated and shot the dogs, documents state.
Responding troopers found 14 spent .22-caliber shell casings on the kitchen floor, as well as blood spatter and a wounded dog in a pet crate, according to documents. Troopers also saw blood outside the home.
They discovered Kline had thrown the two dead dogs in a cornfield behind his home, police said.
Sunday said he doesn't know why Kline shot his dogs or what happened to the surviving dog.
Defense attorney Robert Balaban did not return phone messages seeking comment, and Kline could not be reached for comment.
Conflicting laws: The animal-cruelty statute of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code states it is illegal for someone to kill, maim, mutilate, torture or disfigure a dog or cat, whether the person owns the animal or not.
But another Pennsylvania statute -- part of the state's agriculture laws regarding domestic animals -- states that "nothing in this act shall prevent a person from destroying a pet animal by means of firearms."
Sunday said he feared a jury would acquit Kline because of that agricultural statute.
"Weighing all the circumstances, this is what I thought would be the most just outcome, because if he was found not guilty, he would have gotten nothing in the way of punishment," the prosecutor said.
SPCA: Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, said she believes the agricultural statute actually targets animal shelters and how they can euthanize animals, but agreed it creates confusion in determining what's legal.
The state's animal-cruelty law clearly says a person cannot kill an animal for no good reason, she said.
"They are very much contradictory," Smith said of the two laws. "I believe that is an area of the law that needs to be addressed."
Sunday said he would have fought for Kline to receive prison time, had it not been for the agricultural statute.
The prosecutor also said he was unable to find any type of local programs aimed at rehabilitating animal abusers. It's unclear where Kline will be performing his community service.
10-27-10 -- Almost Heaven Property Owner Sues PA-SPCA Officers
By: Channel 69
The conduct of Pennsylvania SPCA officers who raided a kennel in Lehigh County is being called into question in a federal lawsuit.
Bryan Smith owned the property near Emmaus where the Almost Heaven Kennel operated.
Smith, along with several kennel employees and three minors all claim that the SPCA officers illegally held them when the kennel was raided in 2008.
They said they were penned in a filthy, foul-smelling area for up to nine hours.
The suit was filed late last month.
10-26-10 -- 18 Dogs Removed From Westside Erie Home
By: Go Erie
Animal enforcement officials removed 18 dogs from a westside Erie home this morning while a city code enforcement officer served a search warrant.
Erie police, the Erie Bureau of Fire and the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania joined code enforcement officials in searching the three-story house at 233 Goodrich St.
Code enforcement officials said they came to the home after receiving complaints about its poor condition.
Investigators described the incident as a "severe case of hoarding." Rooms were packed full of items, making it difficult for investigators to move about and to locate the dogs, investigators said.
The house has been posted as unfit for habitation. A resident of the house was taken for mental health evaluation, officials at the scene said.
10-24-10 -- Chambersburg to Get Leash Law Monday
By: Jim Tuttle, Public Opinion Online
CHAMBERSBURG -- Anyone walking a dog in Chambersburg may have to use a leash after Monday night.
Borough Council is scheduled to vote on a proposed ordinance amendment that would require a "leash, chain, tether, rope or similar device" no longer than 6 feet. Currently, the ordinance only states that dogs must be kept "under control."
"I think when people are out there with their dogs, when they're off their own property, the dogs should be under their control. The best way is a leash or some other kind of lead," said council President William McLaughlin.
Several complaints from residents in the 2nd Ward led council and staff to consider a new leash law, according to Assistant Borough Manager David Finch.
"In one instance, a concern was raised when an individual was seen walking two German shepherds without a leash, and the resident was worried about what would happen if the dogs became hostile to a smaller dog or to a a passer-by," he wrote in an e-mail.
Borough staff discussed the issued with Police Chief David Arnold, who recommended a leash law, Finch wrote.
While he is not aware of any incidents involving unleashed dogs, McLaughlin said the ordinance change would prevent problems in the future.
"Safety is the overwhelming concern behind most things that council does," he said.
Modeled after one used by the Borough of State College, the updated ordinance would require that a leash be used, and that a person be in control of the leash at all times. Tying the dog's leash to a tree, sign post or traffic meter is prohibited.
No one spoke at a public hearing about the matter conducted during a council meeting earlier this month.
Council was expected to vote on the matter then, but members were accidentally provided with the initial draft, rather than the final proposed ordinance, according to Finch.
"We naturally delayed the vote until such time as the final version could be put into their hands," he wrote.
The council's regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday in Borough Hall Council Chambers, 100 S. Second St.
10-22-10 -- 5 Puppies, Dog Found Dead In Barrel At Monongahela Home
MONONGAHELA, Pa. -- Police in Monongahela are investigating a case where they said five puppies and a female dog were found inside a barrel at a home.
Investigators said they received an anonymous tip about the dogs.
Police said they aren't sure if this was a case of animal cruelty. They said it is possible that the female dog was pregnant when it died and was disposed of in the barrel.
Police said it is legal in Pennsylvania to dispose of dead dogs by burning their bodies. The state SCPA has been called in. Police said they are looking for a veterinarian to conduct autopsies on the dogs.
10-20-10 -- PA Man Charged: Ran Over Kittens, Planned to Eat Them
By: The Associated Press
CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man charged with animal cruelty denies telling his roommates that he planned to eat two badly injured kittens he carried into his apartment.
Francis McGinley tells WCAU-TV in Philadelphia that the allegations against him are absurd. The 44-year-old says he rescued the kittens from being hit by a car and took them back to his Chester, Pa., apartment to clean them up and feed them.
McGinley was arrested Sunday night after police say he told his roommates he had hit the kittens with his truck and planned to eat them.
But McGinley says he doesn't even drive and stopped to rescue the kittens because he loves animals. McGinley says his roommates are ganging up on him to get him thrown out.
The 4-week-old kittens will be put up for adoption.
10-19-10 -- Cat Rules Questioned in Denver Borough
By: Alice Hummer, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal
The municipal rules on cats were a topic of discussion at Denver Borough Council's Oct. 11 meeting.
"I believe treating cats like dogs in Chapter 70 (of the borough code) is not fair," Denver resident David Ludwig told council. "It is not fair for feral cats or other outside cats."
Ludwig asked council to consider removing cats from Chapter 70 in the borough code. Other considerations Ludwig requested included: publicizing the Humane League trap, fix and release program; publicizing if Denver does or does not support the Humane League program for dealing with feral cats; and addressing the feral cats issue in the community.
Ludwig said that on Sept. 26 he received a phone call from an East Cocalico police officer saying that a neighbor had complained about his cat walking on the neighbor's property. Ludwig explained that it was a feral cat, and he did not wish to take responsibility for it.
Ludwig said that the following day, Borough Manager Mike Hession asked him during a phone conversation if he was feeding the cat.
"Yes," Ludwig said. Hession then explained to Ludwig that it is illegal to have a cat off one's property.
Ludwig said he has fed a large cat that's been around his property for about eight years. A kitten, which he knew would not make it through last year's frigid winter, was adopted by a veterinarian's mother.
"For many years, I've fed, trapped, fixed and returned cats to their environment," Ludwig explained. "I care about caring for animals. Being a caretaker of these cats is not allowed under Denver's Chapter 70."
"I've known Dave Ludwig for many years," said veterinarian Dr. Marianne Fracica, who attended the meeting. "He should get a good citizen award."
"The trap-neuter-release program will save people money. It is only $10. The Humane League will rent you the trap," Fracica explained.
Fred Wagaman, in the audience to address council about the planning commission, commented "as a neutral observer" that "we have to feed the cats; cats take care of varmints."
The Humane League's experienced animal control officer, John Matrisciano, who was also at the meeting, agreed that when feral cats are moved out of an area, other feral cats move in. Matrisciano suggested that council may wish to consider an ordinance that distinguishes between feral and domestic cats.
Council member Stephen Binkley said he can see both sides of the issue.
"Cats are totally different (than dogs)," Binkley said. "They should be treated differently. … Property owners have the right to say they don't want their flower beds to be used as a litter box."
Council Vice President Barbara Palm, who chaired the meeting in the absence of President Kenneth Brandt, summed up the issue by saying, "We (council) need to take a look at this topic and decide what to do with it."
10-16-10 -- PA Dog Found in Finger Lakers "Puppy Mill" Region of NY
Original Title of Article: Procession for Dogs a "Funeral"
Organizer wants FL communities to consider laws to curb large-scale breeding
By: Paulette Likoudis, Finger Lake Times
WATERLOO ” A “Procession of Sorrow” will be held tomorrow in remembrance of a large number of dogs intentionally destroyed by carbon monoxide poisoning at a Romulus breeding facility in July.
“This is a funeral procession,” said Dallyn Jenkins, president of the Beverly Animal Shelter’s board of directors and an organizer of the event.
As such, placards that will be provided to be displayed in the windows of vehicles in the procession include the word “funeral” and the message “no more puppy mills” in a circle with a diagonal slash. Jenkins expects 25 to 50 vehicles.
Jenkins said the peaceful procession will assemble at the Beverly Animal Shelter, then drive through Waterloo and Seneca Falls before going past the David Yoder farm in Romulus, where small breed dogs were bred in a barn for several years.
“Then, we’ll drive north on Route 89 past a few puppy mills there,” said Jenkins.
At dusk, a candlelight vigil will take place at People’s Park in Seneca Falls, with the Rev. David Mihalyi of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Waterloo officiating. Candles will be provided and a microphone will be available for participants who want to offer comments.
Jenkins emphasized that the procession is to be orderly and that anyone getting out of line will be dealt with swiftly and accordingly. Jenkins said the procession will slow down in front of the properties of large-scale dog breeders but will not stop.
The Black Diamond Acres breeding kennel operated by Yoder was of a size that required regular monitoring by USDA inspectors. After an outbreak of canine brucellosis spread through Yoder’s dog population, inspectors had discussed the probability of euthanasia with him.
Euthanizing dogs by carbon monoxide poisoning is not considered humane and is illegal. Yoder said he resorted to the method because it was less expensive and faster than euthanasia by injection and he believed it was more humane. According to a USDA inspection report, 93 dogs were destroyed by Yoder.
After an investigation by the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department, Yoder was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor in the matter, pled guilty in Romulus Town Court and received a fine of $300 plus a $205 surcharge a few weeks ago. Yoder has relinquished his breeder’s license and said he has no plans to re-enter the dog breeding business.
Since the case against him was made public, Yoder, an Amish farmer, has reportedly received hate mail and threats.
“I want to make it very clear that we are not targeting the Amish or the Mennonites. Other people run puppy mills, too,” Jenkins said.
Although Amish and Mennonite farms tend to be prominent in this area’s large-scale dog breeding business, Jenkins pointed out that a kennel in north Seneca County is owned by people of neither persuasion.
Jenkins said she hopes Saturday’s procession will cause area communities to think about using zoning laws to curtail large-scale dog breeding businesses the way the Town of Romulus did a few years ago. The town’s action was considered by animal welfare activists to be a model for other communities.
Oddly, said Jenkins, the Beverly Animal Shelter recently picked up two stray poodles wearing USDA identification tags. One of the dogs was returned to a local kennel owner who provided proper paperwork and claimed the dog.
The second dog, said Jenkins, was wearing a tag from a Pennsylvania puppy mill no longer in business.
She said USDA officials have not yet returned calls for more information. Jenkins speculated the dog’s tag may not have been noticed before its release because the hair on its neck was matted and the chain collar that held the tag had become nearly embedded in the animal’s skin.
Those who object to large-scale dog breeding operations say they call them puppy mills because man’s best friend is only a number kept in a cage where the only objective is for the dog to produce as many offspring as possible for the profit of the kennel owner.
Before its closure, Jenkins said Black Diamond Acres had surrendered about seven dogs to the Beverly Animal Shelter because “they were sick or wouldn’t breed.” The dogs were poodles, poodle mixes and a Boston Terrier.
The shelter director said she struggles over what is the right choice when a puppy mill owner wants to give up a dog that is no longer useful.
On the one hand, she said, it’s a chance to help dogs, but it’s also helping the owners of a business that Jenkins and others find repugnant.
“It’s a tough thing for me to do. Are we helping the dogs or just helping the mill owners continue what they’re doing? I wish somebody could answer that for me,” said Jenkins.
10-16-10 -- New Jersey Judge Affirms Consumer's Freedom of Speech
By: Jenny Stephens, North Penn Puppy Mill Watch
October 15, 2010, Mount Holly, NJ -- Superior Court Judge M. Patricia Richmond ruled in favor of consumer Clifford Mintz of East Windsor Township today when deciding on a civil action brought against him by dog breeders Donna Roberts and Dawn Abrams of Vincentown, New Jersey.
The dispute between the parties arose in August, 2008, when Mintz was told the dog he was “adopting” was a nine month old pure bred Havanese. But when a trip to the veterinarian revealed the dog to be considerably older, and a DNA test revealed the pup was not a Havanese, Mintz began to investigate the breeders who had misrepresented the dog and posted the findings on his Internet blog: www.biojobblog.com.
Other consumers surfing the Internet found BioJobBlog and began publishing their own disgruntled experiences about Donna Roberts, Dawn Abrams and their dog selling escapades – even though many purchasers had previously published identical information on numerous other Internet websites.
When Roberts and Abrams became aware of BioJobBlog, they targeted Clifford Mintz and filed what legal experts refer to as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit requesting the court to permanently silence Mintz and award them damages.
In oral arguments presented Friday, October 15, PA attorney Garen Meguerian requested and was awarded a summary judgment with prejudice attached for his client based on what he called a “vendetta action to silence a private citizen who did nothing more than speak the truth and offer his opinion in hopes of serving the greater public good.”
“Fortunately for Mr. Mintz, the Rules of Court and the law provide a mechanism for disposing of vendetta claims brought not for its merits but for the specific purpose of neutralizing a vocal critic and burdening him with the overwhelming costs of litigation. After being deceived, my client exercised his First Amendment right to alert the public of the unconscionable business practices of Roberts and Abrams by posting messages on his Internet blog… he did nothing wrong and the court acknowledged that fact” said Meguerian.
Shortly after receiving the Court’s decision, BioJobBlog was updated. “We won and justice has prevailed” wrote Clifford Mintz.
10-10-10 -- Stable Faces Protest, Charges
By: Jon Rutter, Lancaster Online
A Columbia man whose horse-riding stable was the site of a protest by animal rights activists last month has been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals.
A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20, at the office of Magisterial District Judge Robert A. Herman Jr., 341 Chestnut St., Columbia.
Joseph G. Meyer, of the 4600 block of Marietta Avenue, was charged by Humane League of Lancaster County Police Officer John Matrisciano.
According to a citation filed with Herman, Meyer saw that the horse was sick in late June but neglected to provide necessary veterinary care.
The horse, a mare named Dusty, was euthanized July 22, according to animal rights activists Denise Clardy, of Manheim, and Kathy Vogelpohl, of Marietta.
Clardy said she met Meyer several years ago after she bought a horse from him and volunteered at a facility he had in Manheim Township in exchange for riding lessons for her daughter.
Vogelpohl said she became concerned 2 1/2 years ago when she saw one of Meyer's horses loose and limping along Route 23.
The women, who own and ride their own mounts, say they have tried for several years to get Meyer's Allimax Farm shut down. They claim that several other of his 30 or so horses have died this year.
Meyer declined to comment, other than to say that animal owners are never portrayed positively in stories about cruelty cases.
His attorney said he's eager to present Meyer's side of the story.
"We're looking forward to showing that Joe was doing the best he could to heal the animal" with homeopathic techniques, said Jeff Conrad, an attorney with Clymer, Musser, Brown and Conrad.
Conrad said Meyer's experience –– his horse was taken by the police and the Humane League to a local veterinarian to be euthanized –– raises basic questions about government interference in citizens' lives.
"In this instance, you have the government stepping in, seizing an animal and killing it" against the owner's wishes.
"For some reason," Conrad added, "animals seem to have more rights than people right now. I'm a lover of animals myself. But I'll make the decision when I have to put down my animal someday."
Allimax Farm's website notes that Meyer offers trail riding, horseback riding lessons and hay rides, among other activities.
The Allimax barn is at Marietta Avenue and Kames Hill Road.
Riding was being taught at a separate farm in the 2500 block of Risser Mill Road, Mount Joy, according to the website, but it was unclear last week whether Allimax is still using that property.
A protest was held at the Marietta Avenue site Sept. 18, the day demonstrators say an Allimax horse named Beauty died.
According to the Humane League citation, Dusty went down in her stall last summer "and was allowed to lay untreated." Vet care for the animal was not immediately provided, the citation noted.
Joan Brown, Humane League CEO and president, said: "I would love to comment, but because it's an open investigation I really can't."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is in contact with the Humane League about Allimax, said Stephanie Bell, of the group's cruelty investigation department in Everett, Wash.
"In late June we got our first report concerning horses on this property, and we have had a case open ever since," Bell said.
"There are a lot of reports and a lot of details," Bell said.
Accusations that numerous Allimax animals are suffering from bacterial infections and untrimmed hooves, among other problems, are unverified, Bell added.
She attributed a national uptick in horse cruelty cases to people being unable to afford proper care, and to the country's "very serious horse overpopulation problem."
"In cases like this," she added, "when animals remain in the charge of the defendant, we always want the animals to be monitored."
According to Clardy, Humane League officers have refused her requests to meet her at the Allimax stable and photograph other horses that she says have problems.
Meanwhile, Clardy said, some of the horses have been moved to an unknown location.
She added that she's starting a nonprofit group, Save the Horses in PA, to establish a local shelter and raise money to care for rescued horses.
"The awareness just isn't out there that these horses need help," Clardy said.
Added Vogelpohl: Equine problems are overlooked because most people consider horses to be "like a farm animal.
"To me, they're like my kids."
10-10-10 -- PA Fee Changes For Stray Animals Cause Ire
By: The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa.—A central Pennsylvania animal welfare group's plan to change the way it charges for care of stray animals is raising the ire of some local officials.
The Humane Society of Harrisburg Area has charged municipalities based on the average number of animals collected there over the previous three years.
But now, it plans to charge $1 for every person in the municipality, based on 2000 census figures. Some municipalities, such as Hampden Township and New Cumberland, would pay a lot more, others, such as Swatara Township and Steelton, significantly less.
Humane Society director Amy Kaunas tells The Patriot-News of Harrisburg that the new formula would be fairer.
"There was a lot of negative feedback before because they would claim the animal was not found in their municipalities or it was not really a stray," she said. "We tried making people fill out forms when they dropped off animals, but it was not enough to remedy the situation. With the census, there's no arguing. It is what it is."
Animal shelters in York and Lancaster counties use similar formulas, Kaunas said.
In Hampden, which paid about $2,700 in 2010 but would pay more than $24,000 under the new formula, officials are not happy.
"It's a ridiculous amount of money," township manager Mike Gossert said. "Based on the 89 animals from Hampden last year, that comes to $300 per animal."
Gossert said the plan would punish municipalities in which residents are more responsible in caring for their animals. He said officials are looking at alternatives but declined to say what they might be.
Municipalities are responsible under state law for caring for stray dogs, although not for cats, and are not required to contract with the Humane Society.
In North Middleton Township, the annual rate would almost double, and manager Deborah Ealor says officials don't know where the money would come from.
"We support the Humane Society and the service they provide, and it's unfortunate the animals get caught in the middle," Ealor said. "With respect to the change, there's no incentive to help control what's going on."
Perry Albert, director of the Capital Area Council of Governments, says he has had complaints about Humane Society fees before and thinks the new way sounds better. He said Kaunas has been invited to the organization's Oct. 18 meeting in Hampden Township to explain the decision.
10-06-10 -- Dogs' Deaths Puzzle Investigator
Although a necropsy determined that the labs were struck by a train, a Humane Society officer remains uncomfortable.
By: Steve Snyder, Lebanon Daily News
Things aren't always as they appear.
When Ian Baird examined two female Labradors -- a black and a yellow -- lying dead along the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in Jackson Township Tuesday, he thought the puncture wounds he saw in the dogs' heads were caused by small-caliber bullets.
Science, though, had another answer.
Baird, a police officer for the Humane Society of Lebanon County, took the dogs to Lebanon veterinarian Tammy Stone, who conducted a necropsy Tuesday night.
Her conclusion was that those wounds were caused not by bullets, but by train axles or some other sharp object on the train's undercarriage striking them.
"The main injury was a spiral fracture on one dog's back thigh," Baird said Wednesday, "which was created by something fast moving and flipping the dog around."
Baird and Stone theorized that the dogs were either on the tracks when the train came by or were running alongside the train, got clipped, and ended underneath the trains.
Still, the case has Baird puzzled.
"I just can't wrap my head around it," Baird said. "It seems just about impossible. Maybe the train had come to a stop and the dogs went underneath it (while it was stopped), or maybe they tried to run with it. We're at a loss, but there's a good chance it was an accident."
The dogs' owners live about a mile and a half south of the tracks along South Ramona Road and told Baird that they have no enemies.
"We had no reports of gunshots in the area," Baird said.
No bullets or bullet fragments were found in the dogs or at the scene.
Baird said the dogs ran away from their home sometime after 7 a.m. Sunday and were found by a passerby, M.J. McFalls, along the tracks about 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
"It's amazing that someone else didn't see them sooner," Baird said. "You'd think someone would have seen them and called. ... We had no calls from the railroad."
McFalls, who lives nearby, said there was no identification on either dog.
McFalls took photos of the dogs and notified state police and the Humane Society of Lebanon County. She also called state and local dog law officers.
"You could see the dogs were not hit by anything, but they were bleeding from the mouth," McFalls said, believing that if the dogs had been struck by the train, their injuries would have been more obvious and severe.
Baird said that's not always the case.
"A lot of times, there's an initial blunt-force trauma that throws them away," Baird said, "and they don't sustain much damage."
Adding to the pain of discovering the two dead labs for McFalls is a more personal issue.
On Sept. 21, McFalls found her terrier-herding dog mix dead on her front lawn, having been struck and killed by a vehicle. Her dog's collar had been removed.
She said her neighbors with dogs are on high alert.
"Everyone around us is watching our dogs because someone is out there being evil," she said.
Baird remains uncomfortable about what happened.
"We're not ruling out that there was foul play," he said, "but we're sort of at a standstill. If any evidence comes to life, we would look at it. If anyone has any information, they should feel free to call us at 273-3300. ... What a nightmare."
10-06-10 -- Police: 'Malnourished' Dogs Rescued After Small Oakmont Fire
Cocker Spaniels not burned, taken to W PA Humane Society
By: The Pittsburgh Channel
OAKMONT, Pa. -- A man was taken to a hospital after his house caught fire Wednesday morning, and firefighters removed two small dogs from the home that were said to be in poor condition.
Channel 4 Action News' Bob Mayo reported that Michael Hudock, 48, was in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation that he suffered while trying to put out a fire started by a space heater at his home on Huston Road.
Oakmont police said he could face animal neglect charges when he recovers, because of the two cocker Spaniels that were found in his basement.
"Feces all over their bodies, very malnourished, very thin, discolored eyes, didn't appear that they were outside in the previous months," Officer James Sedlak said.
Police Chief David Disanti Sr. said "some drug paraphernalia and a marijuana plant" were also removed from the house, "and that's also under investigation, with charges to probably be pending."
Both dogs were taken to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society for care. They were not injured in the house fire, police said.
"I haven't spoken to the owner, so I don't know what his explanation or reasons he might give me for why these dogs weren't groomed and why they were confined under those conditions," said Bob Gosser, of the Humane Society.
10-02-10 -- Woman Who Poisoned Self, Pets Seeks Return of Animals
By: Margaret Gibbons, The Intelligencer
But Montgomery County and the SPCA don't want Linda Muchnick to get them back.
The pets that a woman poisoned at the same time she tried to kill herself so that they all "could be in heaven together" still belong to that woman, according to a Montgomery County judge.
That could change Monday when the district attorney's office and the SPCA file a petition asking that ownership of the 16 cats and one dog be turned over to the SPCA.
Judge Steven T. O'Neill on Friday said he could not rule on whether the pets should be returned to Linda Muchnick, 57, formerly of Towamencin, because authorities never took legal action to take possession of the animals. Therefore, the judge said, the pets still belong to Muchnick, even though they have been in the SPCA's care since she was taken into custody on Aug. 20, 2009, on animal cruelty charges.
Assistant district attorney Abby Silverman argued that the pets should be considered contraband, similar to drugs seized in an arrest.
But the judge said the pets are comparable to property, such as a car seized in an arrest and that if prosecutors want to retain control over the property, they would have to file a petition for forfeiture.
"My babies are being held in cages, probably not getting exercise and rotting in those cages," said Muchnick, who has been attempting to retrieve her pets since May, when O'Neill found her not guilty by reason of insanity on multiple animal cruelty charges.
Muchnick, overwhelmed by financial problems and about to be evicted from her residence in Towamencin, attempted to kill herself and her 30 pets, lacing their food with rat poison.
Fourteen of the pets died, while the remaining animals were taken to an SPCA shelter. Through May, the SPCA spent an estimated $20,000 for the care of the surviving pets.
Muchnick was devastated to learn that, while she had survived her suicide attempt, about half of her pets had died, according to a psychiatrist who interviewed Muchnick after her arrest.
Less than two weeks after she was found not guilty by reason of insanity, Muchnick petitioned the court to have her surviving pets returned to her. In that petition, Muchnick said she now has an income to care for the pets and a support system in place to help her with any problems.
10-01-10 -- Charges Continue to Pour in Against Kennel Owner
By: Amy Miller, Times News
Charges are mounting against a Franklin Township kennel owner who was arrested last week after state police learned that she stole purebred Labrador Retrievers from another breeder.
According to State Police at Lehighton, a third round of charges for deceptive and fraudulent business practices were filed against Patrice E. Gadaleta, 51, the owner of Musket Labradors.
This time, police state, Gadaleta purchased a Labrador Retriever from Michelle Marie Veucasovic of Michigan, the owner of Infinity Labradors.
She used an alias name to order the show dog, which was restricted from breeding, from Veucasovic. At the time, Gadaleta ordered the dog as a private buyer, but then kept the animal in her commercial dog breeding kennel as breeding stock.
Troopers state that the dog was voluntarily surrendered by Gadaleta to the ASCPA and its identity was confirmed through the microchip identification system.
This is the third investigation against Gadaleta for theft of dogs using alias names.
On Sept. 23, Gadaleta was charged by state police for stealing a pair of Labrador Retrievers from Cheri Conway of Klamath Falls, Oregon, the owner of Thornwood Labrador Retrievers.
Authorities were notified after Conway tried to cash two checks Gadaleta sent her, but the checks bounced.
A search warrant was issued for Gadaleta's property and the stolen dogs were discovered among the 101 dogs kenneled on the property.
On Sept. 29, she was charged with theft by deception and deceptive business practices after troopers received a complaint from Sharene Greer Clark and Dan Clark of California.
They also sold Gadaleta a show dog, valued at $3,200, believing she was a private buyer. Payment was never received for the animal.
A second search of Gadaleta's property was conducted and the stolen dog was found and identified.
Since Gadaleta's arrest, the Carbon County Animal Response Team has been on scene caring for the purebred dogs.
Yesterday, 37 dogs were transported from the property to various animal rescue shelters, where they will be cared for and put up for adoption.
State Police at Lehighton are asking that anyone else that was a victim of Gadaleta to contact the barracks at (610) 377-4270. The investigating officer is Trooper Nicolas A. De La Iglesia.
Note From NPPMWatch:
Gadaleta is the owner of Musket kennel where approximately 100 labs were recently in need of rehoming and veterinary care - see article from September 27, 2010, below.