Folklore, as is often the case, has it wrong.
Pep apparently was guilty of nothing more than chewing up sofa cushions, and, once it was decided he lacked the proper decorum to live at the governor’s mansion, he was sent to the prison in Philadelphia by Gov. Gifford Pinchot.
That was done not so much as punishment, but to provide him a home and see if he could aid in the rehabilitation of inmates, according to the governor’s papers.
Apparently a newspaper reporter came up with the tall tale of the dog sentenced to prison for cat murder, and a mugshot taken of Pep at the prison supplied some credence to the story.
Despite attempts to set the record straight, the myth lingers to this day.
According to EasternState.org, a non-profit group that now runs a haunted house at the abandoned prison, Pep “The Cat-Murdering Dog” was admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary on August 12, 1924.
“Prison folklore tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot used his executive powers to sentence Pep to life without parole for killing his wife’s cherished cat,” the website says, adding that prison records, including Pep being assigned his own inmate number (C-2559), support the story.
It notes that the governor had a different version of what happened — namely that he sent Pep to Eastern to act as a mascot for the prisoners. The governor, it says, was a friend of the warden, Herbert “Hard-Boiled” Smith.
A more thorough account of how Pep landed in prison can be found on the website Suite101.com.
Pep, that story explains, was a gift to Gov. Pinchot during his first gubernatorial term (1923–1927), from the nephew of his wife, Cornelia Bryce Pinchot. The nephew bred Labrador retrievers. But the gift turned out to be a destructive one. Pep developed a habit of chewing on the cushions of the front porch sofa.
“… Pinchot decided that Pep had to go, but for the sake of family harmony he did not want to end the dog’s life,” the Suite101 account says. “Fortunately, an official trip gave him the idea for a convenient way of getting the dog out of his home. On a visit to Maine, Pinchot had seen dogs that were used as therapy to help inmates. So when the governor got back to Pennsylvania he decided to give the troublesome Pep to Eastern State Penitentiary as a pet.”
At the time, some inmates kept pigeons and mice as pets, but not dogs. The only dogs at the prison were guard dogs, there to ensure prisoners stayed inside and in line.
But the inmates quickly developed a fondness for Pep, and apparently vice versa. Pep lived among the inmates at Eastern State for about a decade until he was transferred to newly constructed state prison called Graterford.
Two years after he was sent to Eastern, in 1926, Cornelia Bryce-Pinchot issued a statement to the New York Times in an attempt to clear Pep’s name.
Governor Pinchot’s son also maintained that there was no murder involved.
“A newspaper reporter with a sense of humor and disregard for the truth wrote that Pep had been sentenced to prison for life for killing Mrs. Pinchot’s favorite cat,” the Suite 101 article says.
The son said his father got “absolutely thousands of letters” about Pep and this sentence, according to papers at Grey Towers National Historic Site, Governor Pinchot’s home in Milford. The made-up account, along with the mugshot, was frequently reprinted in tabloids at the time.
As some have noted, Pep — innocent as he might have been — looks pretty guilty in the mugshot.
But then again, don’t we all?
(Image: Artist rendering of Pep, based on an archival photo / Easternstate.org)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, black, cat, dog, dogs, eastern state penitentiary, folklore, gifford pinchot, governor, haunted house, inmates, killed, lab, labrador retriever, legend, mascot, media, murder, myth, news, pennsylvania, pep, pets, philadelphia, prisoner, prisons, reporter, sentenced, therapy dogs
A Pennsylvania service dog agency is suing an Episcopal priest with cerebral palsy to force her to give up the service dog she has had since 2007.
So reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The Rev. Claire Wimbush says it’s unlikely she could continue living on her own without Willa, a 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever provided to her through Canine Partners for Life, a Cochranville, Pa.-based agency that says it wants the dog back for reasons not fully specified.
Canine Partners filed suit last month in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, accusing Wimbush of violating her dog care contract and asking the court to order the dog’s return — along with “reimbursement of all costs and expenses, including legal and court fees.”
Darlene Sullivan, executive director of Canine Partners, declined to comment on the specifics of Wimbush’s case, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The newspaper is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., and the Rev. Wimbush is the daughter of Gannett Vice President Jane Ann Wimbush.
According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Wimbush did not follow the agency’s training rules, including those that require recipients of its dogs to maintain contact through follow-up reports.
“If on repeated occasions there are problems with compliance, we will place that person on probation and they will get a letter explaining everything about why and letting them know if there are further violations they will lose their dog,” the agency’s director said. “If it gets to that point, and they refuse to return the dog to us, we have no choice but to take legal action.”
The Rev. Wimbush said she believes the agency wants Willa back because she was late turning in paperwork about the dog’s health and behavior. She said the documents were mailed on March 25, but Canine Partners didn’t get them by the April 2 deadline. An email from the agency came on April 4, saying arrangements needed to be made for the dog’s return. Six days later, she says, she received a letter telling her to bring Willa to the airport for “repossession.”
“I’m bewildered by this,” said Wimbush, who who has spastic cerebral palsy quadriplegia and uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Wimbush served as Curate of Christian Education at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2011 until last weekend, and is now planning to move back to her native Virginia to be closer to her mother.
On a website supporting her campaign to keep the dog, claireandwilla.com, the Rev. Wimbush notes that Willa’s status changed in February, 2012, when she retired from being a service dog and became a home companion dog:
“My ministry had changed; I was no longer moving from place to place over the course of a day, so I didn’t need her to help me carry things and open doors as often. The Rochester winters are tough on both of us. She was nine years old, almost ten; it seemed like the right time to make a change. Since her retirement, she gets to be petted and admired by all the members of my congregation, especially the elementary school crowd. She still goes with me to the church most days, and often accompanies me when I visit parishioners in animal-friendly retirement communities…”
The reverend admits to having had trouble keeping up with the agency’s required paperwork in 2007, due to illness. The lawsuit says she has had a history of not complying with those requirements. In 2009, the suit says, Wimbush was placed on “permanent probation” and told that any future violations would result in the immediate loss of the dog.
On the Facebook page of Canine Partners for Life, the agency is taking some lumps for filing the lawsuit against the handicapped priest, and some commenters are saying it is “shameful” for it to be demanding the dog back.
“What part of ‘for life’ am I missing?” one person wrote.
It’s unusual for an agency like Canine Partners to demand a dog be returned, according to Toni Eames, president of the International Association of Assistant Dog Partners, an advocacy group of people with guide, hearing and service dogs.
“It’s a very legitimate agency, and there has to be something, mistreatment of the dog, neglect, maybe it has gained a tremendous amount of weight or there’s abuse, there‘s got to be something. Filing papers late is not a reason to demand return of a dog,” she told the newspaper.
Marsha Sweet, assistant director of independent living services for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, knew of only two such cases, and both times an agreement was reached allowing the person to keep the dog. “Usually, the agencies really try to remedy the situation,” she said.
The Rev. Wimbush hopes that might still happen, and an agreement can be worked out.
“I would do anything, anything, to keep my dog,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: canine partners for life, cerebral palsy, claire and willa, claire wimbush, companion dog, democrat and chronicle, disability, gannett, lawsuit, pennsylvania, piscopal, priest, repossess, retriever, return, reverend, rochester, service dog, supreme court, wheelchair, willa, yellow lab
Three judges of the Superior Court upheld a conviction for animal cruelty of a dog groomer who had offered “gothic” kittens for sale on eBay.
An investigation into the pierced kittens began in 2008 when a citizen saw the animals being offered for $100 each on eBay, inquired about them and reported it to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Luzerne County, according to the Times Leader in Wilkes Barre.
A citizen tipped off PETA, as well, which conducted an investigation of its own and passed on information to the SPCA.
Accompanied by state police, SPCA officials visited Pawside Parlor, located at the home of Holly Crawford in Sweet Valley, Pa. They removed three kittens and a cat. While at the home, police also found a dog with pierced ears.
A jury found Crawford guilty of animal cruelty, and last year she was sentenced to six months of home detention and electronic monitoring, followed by probation.
In her appeal, Crawford argued that Pennsylvania’s cruelty statutes were too vague, and pointed out that many accepted veterinary procedures like declawing cats and cutting a dog’s vocal cords could fall under the same category she was being prosecuted under.
The law forbids “acts that maim, mutilate, torture or disfigure the animal.”
This week, the Superior Court panel upheld the lower court’s findings, the New York Times reported.
In a 19-page opinion, Judge Kate Ford Elliott wrote that “metal protruded from the kittens’ small bodies, pierced through their ears and necks, and at least one of these kittens also had an elastic band tied around its tail, an attempt at docking …”
Crawford, who was described in the opinion as being “enthusiastic about piercing,” had admitted to piercing the kittens without anesthetic.
“Appellant’s claims center on her premise that a person of normal intelligence would not know whether piercing a kitten’s ears or banding its tail is maiming, mutilating, torturing or disfiguring an animal.” Judge Elliott wrote. “We disagree.”
Posted by John Woestendiek June 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, cats, decision, disfiguring, ebay, goth cats, gothic, gothic kittens, holly crawford, kittens, luzerne county, maiming, mutilating, opinion, pennsylvania, peta, piercing, sale, spca, superior court, upheld, wilkes-barre
Two western Pennsylvania residents have been charged with animal cruelty in connection with the burning and abandoning of a 1-year-old mixed breed dog named Chance.
Raelynn Van Tassel, 23, and Shannon Clarke, 34, both of Sharon, are accused of keeping the dog in a basement for several days without medical treatment after inflicting what are believed to be chemical burns. Days later, they abandoned him in the streets.
In addition to burns over two-thirds of his body, the dog also was found with three broken teeth and a laceration to its mouth, according to WYTV.
The dog was found by a police officer on April 10 and turned over to the Mercer County Humane Society, which took Chance to a local veterinarian for treatment.
He has since been adopted and is expected to survive.
The Mercer County District Attorney’s office and the humane society conducted the investigation.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandonment, abuse, animal cruelty, animal welfare, arrests, burned, chance, charged, chemicals, dog, dogs, mercer county humane society, pennsylvania, raelynn van tassel, shannon clarke, torture
Ralph Ullum, 68 of Claysville, was attending a kennel club show in December at the DuPage County Fairgrounds with his girlfriend, whose Siberian husky, Diana, was entered in the competition.
He’s accused of feeding Protonix and possibly Benadryl to a competing husky, named Pixie, NBC in Chicago reported.
Pixie’s handler, Jessica Plourde of Newark Valley, N.Y., noticed a crushed pink pill near Pixie’s cage on the second day of competition, according to police. Later, witnesses came forward saying they had seen Ullum feeding and petting Pixie while Plourde was away from the cage
A veterinarian induced vomiting in Pixie and found a rubber band, dog food, chicken pieces and an undigested Protonix pill. Protonix is used to treat acid reflux and heartburn. Wheaton police say the pink crushed pill found near Pixie’s cage is believed to be Benadryl, an over the counter allergy medicine that can cause drowsiness.
Ullum denied feeding anything to Pixie, but said he did pet her.
His hearing on misdemeanor cruelty to animals charges is scheduled for June.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrest, benadryl, cheating, competition, competitors, diana, dog, dog show, dog shows, dogs, drugged, drugging, drugs, dupage county, kennel club, pennsylvania, pets, pixie, protonix, purebreds, ralph ullum, sabotage, siberian husky, wheaton
Two raids in as many days led to the seizure of about 20 dogs and the arrests of what Philadelphia police and the Pennsylvania SPCA say were some of the the leaders of one of the city’s largest dog-fighting rings.
In this morning’s raid, in the 2800 block of Boundinot Street in Kensington, at least a dozen dogs were rescued, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In a raid last night in South Philadelphia, about 20 people were arrested when authorities broke up a dog fight in progress, according to Fox News.
“When we entered the property, the dogs were actually engaged in a fight in a ring in the front bedroom of this property,” said the PSPCA’s head of investigations, George Bengal. “This was a fairly large operation. These gentlemen have been on our radar for quite some time for dog fighting. This is literally months and months of investigation work that resulted in this arrest tonight.”
“Some of the biggest fighters in the city are here,” Bengal, said.
PSPCA officals called the home in the 2600 block of Garrett Street, in the city’s Gray’s Ferry section, a “house of horrors.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, arrests, cruelty, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, george bengal, investigation, pennsylvania, pets, philadelphia, police, preventioin, pspca, raid, raids, ring, society
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 John Woestendiek 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 John Woestendiek 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
I saw big ones, small ones, medium sized, elaborate ones and even more elaborate ones in what turned out to be a quick visit — mainly because the drop-your-dog-off kennel at HersheyPark wasn’t all I hoped it would be.
I had envisioned a grassy, fenced in area, with shade, perhaps some water features, perhaps some college students on hand to keep the dogs company as they frolicked. Instead it was a dingy little room, filled with stacked cages, located beneath the stadium.
Upon walking into what they call the Barking Lot Kennel, my first inclination was to walk out. While there was a good-sized ground level crate Ace would fit into, its floor lined with newspaper, I didn’t think he’d be happy there, between the cramped quarters and the constant barking of the other 10 or so dogs already there.
But then Ace tugged me inside, and happily went into the crate, so I paid the sole attendant the $10 boarding fee and promised — him, Ace and myself — to return in no more than two hours.
My plan had been to schmooze with some dealers and manufacturers in an effort to procure an RV company as a sponsor for “Travels with Ace” – but time was too short, and, to be honest, I’m not big on schmoozing. Maybe I need something like “schmooze control,” where I could push an automatic pilot button and be personable for a specified stretch of time.
I’m also not big on huge gatherings of humans, of which this was one. I’ve never really understood the whole giant boat/dog/car/RV/home furnishings show phenomenon. It’s really my worst nightmare: packing way too many people in one place, restricting their movement with narrow aisles and dead ends, and getting bombarded with pamphlets and – oh, God — salesman.
That’s sort of what I would imagine hell is like.
I guess, in a way, the big shows makes sense — it’s an opportunity to see all there is to offer, all the latest technology, in one place. But, as for me, I’d prefer leisurely browsing through a catalog to trying to maneuver between slow walkers, fast walkers, baby strollers, and people on scooters.
As I walked down row after row of motorhomes, I noticed most dealers and manufacturers had them set up in such a way that, once you entered their area, it was difficult to exit — sort of a circle the wagons/trap the customers mentality.
I left empty handed — turning down all offered freebies because there is just no more room in my car, a 2005 Jeep Liberty that we shall continue the trip in, perhaps renting an RV down the road, partly to get a better taste of that world, partly because, when traveling with a dog, it’s the mode that seems to make the most sense.
I did see enough to get a bad case of RV envy, though — mainly for the compact versions, not much bigger than a van, but with beds, refrigerators, stoves, bathrooms and all the other comforts of home, all squeezed in nice and cozy-like.
I decided I would not turn down, if offered, an Itasca Navion, or a slightly-bigger-than-a-van number made by Pleasure-Way, or this one (left) from Coach House, to serve as the rolling home and office of “Travels with Ace.” But I won’t hold my breath.
I spent a little time looking at the laughably large ones — equipped with just about everything you can imagine, including large flat screen TVs not just inside, but on the outside of the vehicle as well.
On the surface, it seems ludicrous.: Drive 1,000 miles to the Grand Canyon, set up some chairs, pull down the awning and turn on the old set. But I guess it, like the big RV show, makes a certain kind of sense. I can understand, after spending nearly four months now on the road, wanting a home away from home.
On the other hand, given a choice between viewing the Grand Canyon or “America’s Got Talent,” I’d have to go with the big hole in the ground.
I think we had both had enough of our species — me trying to navigate the rows of motor homes among too many humans, he trying to stay calm amid the rows of barking dogs.
He pulled hard on the leash, and made a beeline for the car.
We hightailed it out of there and headed east, sticking to backroads, avoiding the turnpike for a while and enjoying some of the quiet Pennsylvania countryside.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exhibition, hershey, hersheypark, motorhomes, pennsylvania, pets, recreational vehicle, road trip, rv, rvs, show, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
I have heard the term “brick shithouse,” but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one — until Saturday, when I encountered something close: a toilet made of brick in a restroom made of cinderblock at a park well outside Harrisburg.
It — the term — is, at least when I’ve heard it, generally used to describe someone of sturdy frame, as in: “He (she) is built like a brick shithouse.”
Urban Dictionary offers these definitions: “…very muscled and tough; impervious, unassailable … a stand alone toilet, constructed from brick.” (Is there a rural dictionary? There should be.)
I’m not sure of the phrase’s origin, but I’d guess, when outhouses were common, most were made of flimsy wood — until someone constructed a brick one, and word spread about how sturdy it was. I’m guessing people flocked to see it, making comments like, “Now, that’s a shithouse.” Somehow, from that point, the phrase began being used to describe large and sturdy people.
Ace and I were on our way to visit some puppies for sale by an Amish breeder (story to come) when we stopped at a municipal park to stretch our legs (to use a more polite euphemism). I stepped into the bathroom to see a toilet seat perched atop what appeared to be a chimney.
I’d imagine sitting on it — a purpose I did not require — would make one feel a little like Santa Claus.
Anyway, having seen a brick shithouse, or at least something close to it, we can cross it off our list and continue our travels, staying on the lookout for hell in a handbasket, a two-dollar whore, raining cats and dogs, and lipstick on a pig.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bathroom, brick shithouse, built like a brick shithouse, dog's country, dogs, house, pennsylvania, pets, phrase, public, restroom, road trip, rural, shit, shit house, shithouse, slang, toilet, travel, travels, travels with ace, urban