Despite their plea of poverty, despite maintaining they’ve sidestepped the crisis, our verdict remains.
As does the evidence: a police memo that instructed officers, when it came to stray dogs, to serve as judge, jury and executioner for any that seemed sick or violent; and transport and dump the others elsewhere — all while assuring any concerned citizens they were going to “a nice farm in the country.”
In the fall of last year, the cash-strapped capital city found itself unable to keep up with the terms of its contract with the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, which operates the key animal shelter in the area.
About $6,300 in arrears, the city quietly waltzed out of the contract, with no announcement to the public, Amy Worden at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s dog blog, Philly Dawg, reports.
As a result of police having nowhere to take abandoned or stray dogs, Capt. Annette Books gave police supervisors the following instructions in a Dec. 5 memo:
If the animal is vicious and a danger to the public and/or officers, or if the animal is obviously sick, injured or suffering the animal may be destroyed in as safe a manner as possible. The animal will then be taken to the Agriculture Bldg. (near the loading dock area) on Cameron St. for disposal.
The memo went on to add:
If the animal is determined to be a “found” animal, the officer can ask the complainant if they want to keep the animal or if they know someone who will adopt the animal, or the officer can adopt the animal for himself/herself, or the officer can place the animal in a prisoner van and release it to an area where it will be safe for the animal.
If you choose to adopt the animal yourself or release it in a safe environment, DO NOT inform the complainant of your intentions.
Instead, the memo suggested that officers tell citizens the dog is “going to a nice farm in the country.”
Animal welfare advocates, rightfully, were enraged and called the policy both inhumane and illegal. Abandoning an animal is a crime in Pennsylvania, and here was a police official ordering that officers do exactly that, or worse, as a matter of policy.
“Police officers cannot play judge, jury and executioner in the case of a stray dog,” said Tom Hickey, a member of the governor’s Dog Law Advisory Board.
By the end of December, the city publicly declared the matter resolved, making the memo’s instructions a “moot” point, a spokesperson for the city’s mayor said.
We’d disagree with that. We’d say it’s not moot at all. And we’d suggest that the police captain who wrote the memo be driven somewhere out in the country, perhaps to a nice farm, where she would be safe.
It’s not entirely clear what, if any, definite terms have been agreed upon by the city and the humane society, but they are reportedly meeting and talking.
Worden reports that, according to animal rescuers, the shelter continues to turn away stray animals and that “police officers are telling the public they cannot help unless the dog is aggressive. In which case, according to the memo, they will be shot.”
Worden also reports that a Facebook petition drive has been started, called “Stop the Shooting of Dogs in Harrisburg.”
All that considered, Dusty Rose, the dog pictured at the top of this post, is lucky to have seen 2012.
A female pit bull, she was found outside a convenience store on New Year’s eve by a volunteer with Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance (CPAA). The volunteer called 911, and a police officer arrived to tell her the only thing he was authorized to do was shoot the dog if it was aggressive.
Wadsworth told him she’d prefer to do without his services and called fellow CPAA volunteers to help round up the dog.
Dusty’ Rose is now receiving medical care at a veterinary hospital in York, where she is recovering from surgery to fix a prolapsed uterus. Donations to her care can be sent to CPAA or made through its website.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abandonment, animal shelters, animal welfare, animals, budget, central pennsylvania animal alliance, contract, cpaa, crisis, destroy, disposal, dog law, dogs, dusty rose, email, finances, found, harrisburg, humane society, humane society of harrisburg, illegal, inhumane, memo, nice farm in the country, pennsylvania, petition, pets, philly dawg, pit bull, police, policy, release, rescues, shoot, stray dogs, strays
The most recent case was Monday night, when someone threw a blue-nose pit bull named Dallas from a brown Cadillac, Harrisburg police said.
Cpl. Deric Moody said a witness saw the dog thrown from the car and called police. The dog suffered an apparent broken leg and other injuries, and was being treated at a veterinary hospital near Mechanicsburg, according to the York Dispatch.
Shortly after officers arrived to interview the witness, Dallas’ owner showed up at the scene. He told police that the dog disappeared after he let him out earlier. Police believe the unattended dog was likely stolen.
On March 5, someone threw a dog from a speeding silver or gray pickup truck on Route 30 in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, near the Marietta Pike overpass. That dog, a shiba inu later named Sherman (pictured above), was taken to the Humane League of Lancaster County and is recovering from his injuries.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, blue nose, cadillac, car, cruelty, dallas, dog, dogs, harrisburg, investigation, pennsylvania, pets, pit bull, police, sherman, shiba inu, thrown, tossed, vehicle, window
I was on my way to see an Amish man about a dog.
Not because I want another dog — Ace is more than enough, especially during our current nomadic phase — but because I wanted a first-hand glimpse of what an Amish-run breeding operation is like.
I’ve always been puzzled by the disparity — that a seemingly peaceful and simple people could be breeding and raising dogs under conditions as horrendous as those that have been described in recent years. The most recent horror came out of an Amish puppy farm in New York, where a breeder, rather than have his dogs treated for possible brucellosis, killed them all using a hose-and-tailpipe home-made gas chamber.
In Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio, for more than a decade, reports have surfaced of despicable conditions at Amish puppy mills, and while Pennsylvania has begun to crack down on the larger scale operations, plenty of smaller ones remain.
Passing through Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I placed a phone call to Pine Tree Kennels, which I knew to be an Amish owned kennel and which was advertising “American Bulldogs” on the internet. I left a message that I was in the area and would like to see his pups.
Minutes later, my call was returned by kennel owner David Fisher and, even though he wasn’t home, arrangements were made for me to drop by his farm, where his children would show me the pups.
He said that if I saw one I liked, I could pay and take the pup with me, and he’d send me the paperwork later. “Do you have the money now?” he asked. The bulldogs pups were listed at $875, though there were two runts he was willing to let go for $650. “I don’t think that they are sick, it’s just that sometimes you get runts.”
Asked what the paperwork consisted of, he said it was the pups’ registration with the National Kennel Club — an outfit some critics describe as a paper mill for puppy mill dogs. Breeders not willing to abide by the more stringent rules and guidelines of the American Kennel Club, often register their dogs with the NKC instead.
A honking horn brought Fishers children out of their farmhouse — or at least half of the nine he has, and they showed me both the bulldogs and another litter of blue heeler-border collie mixes that they retrieved from a building obscured behind trees and bushes.
They seemed happy to show off the dogs (and to have their own pictures taken well), lifting the pups up two at a time and carrying them from their enclosures. Both pups and kids were adorable — and Fisher’s operation, at least that part of it that’s visible from the road, didn’t seem too horrendous at all.
Fisher’s operation outside of Lykens, in Dauphin County, was once larger scale, and state inspections reports reveal repeated violations — things like feces not cleaned up, rough and sharp edges and, perhaps most disturbing, worming syringes being used as chew toys.
n 2009 Fisher pleaded guilty to 14 counts of dog law violations in 2009 (three of which were later withdrawn), including failure to keep kennel in a “sanitary and humane” condition, refusal of entry and selling underage puppies. In Feb. 2010 he was sentenced to six months probation for refusal entry to an inspector, selling underage puppies and failure to mantain a sanitary kennel.
On my weekend visit, Fisher’s scaled down operation seemed cleaner and more organized than the inspection reports of recent years portrayed it.
I checked out the bulldogs as their mama paced back and forth inside an enclosure — and I did like the solid white runt the best. When I asked Fisher’s young son which dog was the best he picked up the white puppy. ”You mean the nicest? This one.”
In an adjoining pen a blue heeler — who the children said lost one her legs in a mowing accident — barked, while another one, the mother of the hybrid pups, sat stationed atop a dog house.
Her puppies were kept in a shack all but hidden from view, and when I asked to see them, all the children ran back there, each returning with one or two in the crooks of their arms.
It was a bucolic scene, with beautiful kids and beautiful pups — and one that belied the increasing mound of evidence shedding a bad light on Amish breeders.
I got a chance during my visit to talk to Amy Worden, who writes the “Philly Dawg” blog for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which is probably the best place to keep up with the latest news and developments pertaining to puppy mills in Pennsylvania.
As she explained it, the state is introducing the law in stages, and granting waivers that allow some larger scale operations to keep running. Overall though, in the past few years, the number of puppy mills has dropped from 300 to around 100.
Worden thinks that, in addition to those who have gotten out of the business or moved, other Amish breeders have scaled down to avoid the regulations. The new law has its gray areas, she said, but it goes along way to ensure that huge puppy mills will become history in Pennsylvania. “Clearly, nobody’s going to have 800 dogs or more, as was case in the past.”
Worden said the Amish were persuaded to start breeding dogs by outsiders, who pushed the concept as a way the farming families could make some supplemental income — important when one has a family as large as Fisher’s.
Critics say — and it’s probably a generalization — that the Amish view dogs as livestock, but watching Fisher’s children with the dogs, though they did sling them around pretty casually, there seemed to be genuine affection.
With fewer than 25 dogs on hand, Fisher is not subject to the regulations contained in Pennyslvania’s new dog law, which was passed in 2008, though many of its provisions have yet to kick in.
Other than that, the only solid conclusion I reached is that the Amish can be pretty persistent salesmen — at least Fisher is.
He called me before we had gotten a mile away from his farm, and has called me 15 times since.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amish, animals, blue heelers, border collies, breeders, bulldogs, dauphin, dog law, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, farms, harrisburg, lancaster, law, legislation, pennsylvania, pets, puppy, puppy mills, road trip, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
A one-time school board president who in less than two years lost his wife, home and then his dog, appeared in federal court in Dauphin County Thursday to try and get his dog back.
But no testimony was heard in the case of Miles Thomas and his seized collie, Baron. Instead attorneys were given 30 days to work the matter out amongst themselves, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports.
“I would feel very badly if we couldn’t resolve this,” said District Judge John E. Jones III. “There is a very reasonable path to a reasonable agreement. … I am very hopeful that this conundrum can be worked out.”
Baron was picked up by the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area in July after a police officer found the dog alone in Thomas’ car. The windows were slightly rolled down, but the Humane Society says the dog was panting, without water and covered with feces. Thomas was eating lunch at a restaurant nearby.
The Humane Society, while it says its actions were justified, has offered few other details, and Thomas’ attorney has said that Thomas, 73, though he was briefly homeless, deserves his dog back.
” I can’t get into the detail of how it’ll be worked out. I hope in the next 30 days, we can put this litigation behind us and move forward,” Andrew Ostrowski, attorney for Thomas, told CBS21.
Thomas, a former stock broker, once served as president of the Harrisburg School Board. In the past two years, he lost his wife, Anna, to Alzheimer’s, and later his home, after going into debt trying to cover her medical bills.
The federal judge ordered Ostrowski and Amy Kaunas, the executive director of the Harrisburg Area Humane Society to reach an out-of-court agreement in the case.
“I’m going to follow the judge’s orders and not comment on the case,” said Kaunas. Kaunas left the courthouse with security, and the Humane Society told CBS 21 News that they had to hire protection after receiving threats in connection with the case.
The hearing ended with Thomas announcing that he would be able to visit Baron, who he hasn’t seen since July 26.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alzheimers, amy kaunas, baron, collie, dauphin county, debts, dog, dogs, federal court, harrisburg, homeless, humane society, lawsuit, miles thomas, pennsylvania, visit
Twenty years ago, Miles D. Thomas was a successful stockbroker, and president of the school board in Harrisburg, Pa.
In the past two years, life has been less kind.
He lost his wife to Alzheimer’s in late 2007. Then, unable to pay the bills that had mounted for her care, he lost his house and turned to living in a series of cheap motels, or sleeping in his car.
Last month, authorities seized his dog, a 7-year-old collie named Baron, when Thomas left him in his car while getting a bite to eat. Because he’s homeless, apparently, he hasn’t been able to get him back since.
Hearing of Thomas’ plight, an attorney filed a suit in federal court on behalf of the 73-year-old former Harrisburg School Board president, seeking to get the dog back from the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc. The agency maintains that the dog is being held as part of a cruelty case but has declined to release details, and Thomas has not been charged with any offense.
“To me, he’s the greatest thing I have in the world,” Thomas said of his dog, the fourth in a line of collies the family has owned. “I love him so much, yet they try to keep me from him. I can’t understand that.”
Thomas says it was 76 degrees on the day he left Baron in the car, with the windows open, and that he was gone less than an hour.
When he returned, the dog was gone and an officer with the Humane Society informed him his dog had been seized.
Last week, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III issued a temporary restraining order barring the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area from destroying or transferring ownership of Baron. A hearing is scheduled Sept. 3.
“I couldn’t imagine letting this man go without his dog,” Attorney Andrew Ostrowski told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. “He cares deeply for the dog, and he’s seriously affected by this. In my view, it’s a federal, constitutional civil rights issue, and I won’t shrink from it.”
Ostrowski said he’s also pursuing a civil suit that seeks damages.
Amy Kaunas, Humane Society of Harrisburg Area executive director, said that Thomas’ dog was seized as part of a cruelty investigation initiated by a referral from the Middletown police.
She declined to discuss specifics of the case, but said animal-cruelty statutes require that animals be provided with adequate shelter and access to food, water and veterinary care.
Thomas fell more than $100,000 in debt after his wife spent three years in a nursing home, the Harrisburg newspaper reported. But he insisted he always took care of his dog. “I took better care of him than I did myself,” he said.
Since early August, Thomas has been living with Stephen Conklin, a friend of attonrey Ostrowski’s, who took Thomas in at his farm in York County.
Now that Thomas has a stable home situation, Conklin said the thinks the Humane Society should return the dog to him.
Ostrowski, contends that the animal agency pressured Thomas into signing over his rights to Baron two days after the dog was taken by the agency’s canine officer, threatening him with a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail unless he turned over the dog.
(Photo: CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alzheimers, animal control, baron, bills, car, collie, cruelty, debt, dog, federal court, harrisburg, homeless, humane society, judge, lawsuit, medical, miles thomas, president, school board, seized, stockbroker, taken