07-18-08 -- Chesco Farmer Charged with Animal Cruelty
By: Nancy Petersen, Philadelphia Inquirer
A Chester County Amish farmer was arrested last night during a raid on his farm and charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.
John Blank of Cochranville, owner of Limestone Kennels, was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police shortly after 5 p.m. when agents from the Pennsylvania SPCA descended on his farm. In front of his crying children, he was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police cruiser. After it was determined that he wasn't a flight risk, he was allowed to spend the night on his farm.
Warrants issued earlier in the day charged Blank, 54, with three misdemeanor counts and 10 summary counts of animal cruelty. By the time the raid ended after about 31/2 hours, 21 summary counts of neglect and lack of veterinary care had been filed against Blank, said PSPCA program officer Elaine Scapalla.
The entire event was filmed by crews from the reality show Animal Cops, which is trailing the PSPCA during the next several weeks. Of the 100-plus dogs found on the farm, 21 dogs - five or six adults and the rest puppies - were taken to the agency's Philadelphia shelter, Scapalla said.
'All were crowded in cages, their nails were curled under, and two had embedded collars,' she said. Some had conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eye; others had untreated abscesses, she said. Reporters were not allowed on Blank's property and were unable to reach him for comment yesterday.
The so-called puppy mill Blank operated at his 73-acre farm along Route 10 was not visible from the highway. Instead, a sign advertising brown eggs and cut flowers greeted motorists zipping along the busy road.
The farm, immaculate with carefully tended fields of corn and tobacco, and a large garden in front of the farmhouse, differed little from other farms in the fertile Octorara watershed.
Yesterday's raid had its origins two weeks ago with a small ad in a Lancaster newspaper for free breeder dogs that caught the attention of Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in Chester Springs. Smith went to the farm, but Blank wasn't home. Volunteers visited the farm over the next two days and ended up with nine dogs, all in deplorable condition, Smith said.
'Two were missing their eyes,' he said. 'They had big gaping holes with flies in them. One of the dogs had his eye hanging out. Two were missing ears.' Teeth on one dog, a Shiba Inu, were so bad that he couldn't close his mouth, Smith said. Smith took the dogs to the PSPCA for medical evaluation.
A week later, undercover investigator Ashley Mutch went to the farm and purchased a sickly puppy that Blank had said was 7 weeks old. The puppy, which was determined to be just 3 weeks old, died within 24 hours, she said. According to records from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Blank has a license to have as many as 250 dogs at his kennel. An inspection in January found no violations, although he has been cited in the past for maintenance and overcrowding.
Magisterial District Judge Henry Farmer of Oxford is expected to issue penalties against Blank today, said Scapalla.
Read Limestone Kennel Inspection Reports: 2006 - Click Here 2007 - Click Here 2008 - Click Here
ACTION ALERT: PSPCA raids Art Hershey’s neighbor
July 18, 2008 : 8:52 AM
Art Hershey has been fighting the House Bills that would make conditions for animals more humane in the puppy mills. Yesterday, Hershey’s neighbor was raided for animal cruelty.
Bill Smith, Founder of Main Line Animal Rescue, commented on the situation, "I would imagine this would prove embarrassing to Mr. Hershey, who claimed not to have puppy mills in his district. 'My kennels don't need additional oversight,' he said. Obviously, they do."
What you can do
Send a email to Hershey about the importance of these bills.
Web site & addresses (click on name)
Here's an example: Republican Representative Art Hershey from Chester County submitted Amendment A08348 that seeks to add "dishwasher" to the list of unlawful and/or unsuitable housing for a dog in the Commonwealth. In reality, some would consider a dishwasher to be a marked improvement over many of the dilapidated kennels found within Hershey's own district, but this Amendment is nothing more than a shameful stall tactic with an inappropriate dash of sarcasm. A recent Main Line Animal Rescue billboard used the image of a dishwasher to depict the current average cage size in which many an unfortunate Pennsylvania breeder dog spends a lifetime and there's nothing funny about that.
Other Republican Representatives choosing to favor the puppy millers over the constituents in the Commonwealth include David Millard of Columbia County, Jerry Stern of Blair County and Dan Moul of Adams and Franklin Counties. Truth be told, the number of commercial breeding kennels in Pennsylvania that will be affected by HB-2525 is approximately 650, or a little less than 25 percent, of the state's 2,750 licensed kennels.