Teeth in new Dog Law: Pennsylvania shuts down five dog kennels

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pa. Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has used authority provided by the new dog law to shut down five of the state’s commercial dog breeding kennels March 19.

Scarlet-Maple Farm Kennel in Lancaster County, owned by Daniel P. Esh; the adjoining Twin Maple Farm Kennel in Lancaster County, owned by John E. Esh; Burkholder Farm Kennel in Berks County, owned by Aaron Burkholder; CC Pets, formerly Puppy Love, Kennel in Lancaster County, owned by Joyce Stoltzfus; and Almost Heaven Kennel in Lehigh County, owned by Derbe “Skip” Eckhart, have all been closed under the Dog Law’s provisions.

The dog law, signed in October 2008 by Gov. Ed Rendell, gave the bureau enforcement power to make sure kennels that do not meet the standards of the law can no longer operate in Pennsylvania, according to Pa.’s Special Deputy Secretary for Dog Law Enforcement Jessie L. Smith.

Court ruling. The Commonwealth Court recently issued a ruling upholding the Department of Agriculture’s decision to refuse Aaron Burkholder’s 2009 application for a commercial kennel license (link opens .pdf of court ruling).

The license was revoked in 2008 and refused in 2009 because the bureau found numerous violations of the dog law over multiple inspections.

Later, the department provided information from inspection reports to the Humane Society of Berks County, leading to Burkholder’s animal cruelty conviction.

Under the new law, a kennel license cannot be issued to someone convicted of animal cruelty.

Other revocations. Daniel P. Esh’s commercial kennel license was revoked in 2008 because of poor kennel conditions. During multiple inspections in 2007 and 2008, dog wardens found moldy food, poor maintenance, excessive feces, rodents and inadequate cage sizes for the dogs, among other violations.

Because of those violations, the bureau refused to grant Esh a commercial kennel license in 2009. This decision was appealed to Commonwealth Court, but the appeal was eventually withdrawn.

A recent closing inspection of Daniel Esh’s kennel found that he has 11 dogs. Anyone who has 25 or fewer dogs does not need a commercial kennel license.

John E. Esh was cited for kennel violations in 2007 and, in January 2008, he pled guilty to five summary offenses. A judged sentenced him to the maximum fine of $300 on each count, totaling $1,500.

John E. Esh filed an application to close his commercial kennels with the bureau in late 2009. A recent inspection revealed he has fewer than 25 dogs and his commercial kennel has closed.

CC Pets Kennel. Joyce Stoltzfus’ CC Pets Kennel was found by Commonwealth Court in April 2009 to be in violation of a 2005 consent agreement with the state attorney general’s office. Because of the violation, the court ordered CC Pets to cease operation for six months.

The new dog law authorizes the bureau to revoke a kennel’s license if they are ordered to stop operating a kennel, owning or selling dogs or both. Her license was revoked by the bureau in September 2009, and after initially appealing the revocation, Joyce Stoltzfus withdrew her appeal and filed a closing application in November 2009.

A recent closing inspection found 13 dogs on the premises.

Removed 200 dogs. In June 2009, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement undertook its largest enforcement action to date when it removed more than 200 dogs and shut down Eckhart’s Almost Heaven Kennel in Lehigh County.

The bureau refused Eckhart’s 2009 kennel license application. When he failed to appeal to Commonwealth Court within the necessary time period, the bureau, working with the Humane Society of the United States, removed 216 dogs from the kennel.

Eckhart was also fined more than $169,000 by the Department of Agriculture for violating the Dog Law. His license was initially revoked in October 2008 after an inspection showed serious violations of the law.

Cruelty charges from the inspection filed by Humane Society Police Officers are still pending.

Learn more. For more information about the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement or to view kennel inspection reports, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us, click on “Bureaus, Commissions & Councils,” and select “Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.”

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