Two eastern Pennsylvania kennel operators shot and killed 80 of their dogs, rather than comply with orders to have their animals examined by veterinarians, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
And because of a loophole in state law, neither will be punished for the mass extermination.
Elmer Zimmerman, of Kutztown, shot 70 dogs after a July 24 inspection; his brother Ammon Zimmerman, who operates a kennel next door, shot 10 dogs, officials of the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement said.
Wardens had ordered 39 dogs checked for flea and fly bites. They also issued citations for extreme heat, insufficient bedding and floors dogs’ feet could fall through.
Elmer Zimmerman told The Philadelphia Inquirer he feared the state was trying to close his kennel: “They were old, and we were hearing that they don’t want kennels anymore,” he said. “The best thing to do was get rid of them.”
Ammon Zimmerman told a reporter the decision to destroy the dogs was “none of your business.”
Pennsylvania law allows owners to put dogs down by shooting them.
A bill in the state legislature, backed by Gov. Ed Rendell, would allow only veterinarians to euthanize dogs in commercial kennels.
“It’s horrible, but it’s legal,” Jessie Smith, special deputy secretary of the dog-law bureau, said of the shootings. “That someone would shoot 70 dogs rather than spend money to do a vet check is extremely problematic.”
Both men surrendered their kennel licenses. Elmer Zimmerman pleaded guilty to four charges of violating the dog law, Smith said.